Windstream disconnected the last of Huawei equipment from its network and removed it from its shelves this month, the company says.
The equipment was acquired in the company’s 2017 acquisition of EarthLink. Windstream says that the Huawei equipment represented a small fraction of its routing and transportation inventory.
The FCC has designated the Chinese vendor as a security threat, which means that the equipment must be removed. Windstream is a federal contractor and implemented a plan to remove the equipment in 2019, the year before removal became mandatory.
The company said that no Huawei equipment has been operational in its network since last year.
“As an industry leader in network intelligence and infrastructure expansion, Windstream was prepared to quickly and effectively remove the impacted equipment,” Art Nichols, Windstream’s chief technology officer, said in a press release. “Our multi-pronged approach included using alternate routes, replacing equipment where necessary, and leveraging the company’s winning Fast and Flexible process.”
In November 2019 the FCC banned the use of money from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to buy, obtain, maintain, improve modify or otherwise support equipment from companies that, according to the commission, threatened the integrity of telecommunications networks and supply chains. The commission at that time proposed that Huawei and ZTE be designated as such companies. That became official in June 2020.
The commission subsequently said providers that had deployed Huawei and ZTE would have to replace that equipment. A funding program was established with the intention of covering those costs.
The nation’s largest providers never used equipment from those vendors, but some smaller companies did so prior to the ban.