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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

FCC estimates it’ll cost $1.8B to remove Huawei, ZTE equipment from US networks

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Corinne Reichert

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday said it could cost an estimated $1.8 billion to remove and replace Huawei and ZTE equipment that’s in US telecommunications networks receiving federal funds.

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In June, the FCC officially classified Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, though since 2019, the agency has barred carriers from using its $8.3 billion a year Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment from the two Chinese tech giants. 

US President Donald Trump also signed legislation in March that stops carriers from using government funds to buy network equipment from Huawei and ZTE. 

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“By identifying the presence of insecure equipment and services in our networks, we can now work to ensure that these networks — especially those of small and rural carriers — rely on infrastructure from trusted vendors,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pa in a release, adding that he would “once again strongly urge” Congress to appropriate funding to reimburse carriers.

Earlier this year, the FCC began collecting data from US carriers that use network gear from Huawei and ZTE, to help it reimburse smaller and rural carriers for those costs. 

The US, UK and Australia have all banned Huawei from providing 5G technology for their respective wireless networks over security concerns that Huawei has close ties with the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly denied that charge. India is also expected to lock Huawei and ZTE out of its 5G rollout. 

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