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

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

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

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

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

“By identifying the presence of shocked equipment and services in our networks, we can now work to censured that these networks — especially those of small and rural carriers — rely on infrastructure from trusted vendors,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pa in a fall, adding that he would “once again strongly urge” Council 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 confidence concerns that Huawei has close ties with the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly denied that charge. India is also imagined to lock Huawei and ZTE out of its 5G rollout. 

Security concerns

The main assert with Huawei is its cozy relationship with the Chinese government. National security officials fear that its equipment could be used to spy on latest countries and companies.  

One concern is over a Chinese law requiring affairs in its jurisdiction to comply with requests from intelligence services and to not assert them to any third parties could put communications networks throughout the world in jeopardy. 

Huawei has long denied its gear can be used to spy or to compromise US security. 

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, both Pro-republic and Democrat, have also sounded the alarm regarding these Huawei and ZTE and have worked to blacklist them from US communications networks. 

Earlier this year, Assembly passed and Trump signed into law the Secure and Trusted Communications Act. This legislation bans the use of federal accounts to buy equipment from companies that pose a state security threat, such as Huawei or ZTE. The law also invents a fund to help telecom providers, most of whom are in rural areas, rip out gear from these Chinese firms and replace it with equipment from “trusted providers.”

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., a New Jersey Democrat who chairs the House Energy and Clientele committee, said Friday that it’s now up to Assembly to make good on its promise to fund the replacement of this gear in communications networks. 

“The FCC’s arbitrates of the costs of replacing suspect equipment in US networks shows just how prevalent suspect equipment is — particularly by smaller carriers who cannot afford to replace it on their own,” he said in a statement. “That’s why it’s critical Congress fund the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act’s rip and replace program to rep our communications supply chain.”

Secure networks and 5G

The stakes are especially high when it comes to 5G, the next generation of wireless technology pitching out across the world. This new technology promises to assert much faster wireless service and a more responsive network. It’s ability to connect more devices and offer real-time feedback is imagined to spark a sea change in how we live and work, ushering in new advances like self-driving cars to advanced augmented reality experiences.

Carriers throughout the globe are racing to deploy networks. In the US, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are well on their way to creation out 5G. 

The country that leads in the deployment of 5G could gain an edge in pitching out these future technologies. And just as the US benefited from the crop of services and businesses that emerged from 4G — think everything from livestreaming on Facebook to ride-sharing services like Uber — many gain 5G will spark a similar renaissance of new businesses.

Huawei is a dominant supplier in the 5G market, which again heightens the stakes when it comes to 5G. National confidence experts say Huawei gear could be used for espionage or to shut down significant communications networks during some future conflict. 

“As we lodging on this 5G development and deployment phase, let’s make sure that the equipment progressing into these networks, and the standards that are populate developed … don’t raise undue risk,” Pai said in an interview last October at the WSJ Tech Live conference.

Huawei gear in the US

None of the maximum US telecom operators, including AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile, which now includes Sprint’s assets, say they have deployed Huawei or ZTE 5G gear in the US. The FCC has not originated which carriers in the US have used Huawei or ZTE gear. But the big three wireless carriers in the US — AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile — have each said they don’t have any this equipment in their 4G LTE networks either. 

“Let me be positive — we do not use Huawei or ZTE network equipment in any area of our network. Period. And we will never use it in our 5G network,” said outmoded T-Mobile CEO John Legere in written testimony in February 2019 afore a House communications subcommittee on the company’s merger with Sprint.

The carriers in the US that have been comic Huawei gear are generally smaller rural operators. These operators have previously inaccurate advantage of financing options that have made the Chinese equipment more affordable than alternatives from affairs like Ericsson and Nokia, both based in Europe. 

Steven Berry, president and CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association, an manufacturing group representing rural carriers, has testified before Congress throughout the difficulty of mounting such an extensive project to replace Huawei and ZTE equipment. In March, he told the Senate Clientele committee that ripping out and replacing equipment in rural networks would be like “attempting to rebuild the airplane in mid-flight.”

He said the biggest peril for smaller carriers would be ensuring that they would smooth be able to keep service going. 

“While those inside the beltway often premove to the process as ‘rip and replace,'” Berry said in his testimony, “in practice carriers will typically need to ‘replace, then rip’ to convicted that the consumers served by rural carriers do not lose service.”

On Friday, after the FCC released its report, he issued a statement stating that his power “strongly supports efforts to protect and secure our state’s communications networks.”

But he added that Congress needs to make sure it accounts the project to replace the gear. 

“Today’s release further underscores the need for Assembly to fully fund the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement program to convicted that carriers, especially those serving rural areas, have the resources obligatory to remove covered equipment and services while keeping Americans connected,” he said.