Telecommunications operators with 10 million subscribers and less are entitled to compensation for equipment replacement costs.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved a program to remove from telecom operators’ networks (mostly in rural areas) equipment from Chinese manufacturers identified as posing a threat to national security. According to Reuters, the cost of the program is $ 1.9 billion.
Last year, the FCC recognized Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE as a threat to national security. Thus, American companies were prohibited from using government funding of $ 8.3 billion to purchase equipment from these companies. In December last year, the FCC passed rules according to which telecom operators using equipment manufactured by ZTE and Huawei are required to replace it.
“There is a serious risk that this equipment could be manipulated, disabled or controlled by foreign actors. We will study network by network, base station by base station, and router by router, until we root out all equipment that could undermine national security. It’s not an easy task, ”said Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel.
The problem is especially acute for telecom operators in rural areas, faced with difficulties in finding specialists to replace equipment and the high cost of their services.
In Huawei itself, the FCC called the new requirement an attempt to “fix something that did not break.” According to the company, the initiative will only create extreme difficulties for telecom operators, especially in rural areas, which will not be able to fulfill the requirement without disruptions in work and problems with providing high-quality services to their subscribers.
The final FCC requirement expands the list of companies eligible for equipment replacement costs from companies with 2 million subscribers or fewer to companies with 10 million or fewer.
In September 2020, the FCC estimated that it would cost $ 1.837 billion to replace Huawei and ZTE equipment.
Last month, the FCC voted to move ahead with a plan to ban equipment permits on U.S. telecommunications networks from Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE, which are considered a national security threat. The FCC may also revoke previous equipment approvals issued to Chinese companies.
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