The FCC has opened the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program filing window. The program will reimburse communications providers with 10 million or fewer customers for reasonable costs related to the removal, replacement and disposal of Huawei and ZTE communications equipment and services.
Equipment from Huawei and ZTE has been deemed to pose a security threat to the U.S. due to the companies’ relationships with the Chinese government. The FCC now prohibits carriers from using Universal Service Fund (USF) money to purchase equipment or services from these companies.
Larger U.S. carriers have avoided equipment from these companies, but some smaller primarily wireless companies have deployed such equipment, primarily from Huawei. The FCC was allotted $1.9 billion in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to fund the rip and replace program.
To request funding, eligible providers must file FCC Form 5640 Application Request for Funding Allocation, which can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/supplychain. Applicants can initiate, save, submit and change their applications until the closing of the filing window at 11:59 PM ET on January 14, 2022.
“Trust in our communications systems is fundamental, and to preserve that trust we need to identify threats and mitigate risk,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release. about the opening of the filing window for providers seeking Huawei replacement funding.
“Today we are doing just that by opening up a new program that will reimburse providers for the cost of replacing equipment and services that pose a threat to national security. Removing insecure equipment from existing networks after installation is challenging. This program is here to help. We also want our communications companies to have the opportunity to use promising and innovative alternatives, like interoperable open radio access network solutions, as we build tomorrow’s networks.”