US sets dates for Chinese vendor replacement scheme

Jessica Rosenworcel FCC.jpg

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will open a $1.9 billion programme to reimburse mostly rural telecoms carriers for removing network equipment from Chinese companies.

The FCC agreed the compensation deal in July before the final order expanded the companies eligible for reimbursement from those with two million or fewer customers to those with 10 million or fewer customers. However, this only applies to carriers that acquired Chinese equipment before 30 June 2020.

The programme will open on 29 October for applications through 14 January 2022 and the FCC will notify successful applicants before allocating funding in Q2 2022.

Companies deemed national security threats – for example Huawei and ZTE Corp – will see their role in US network equipment diminish under the US government’s ‘rip and replace’ programme.

The US government barred federal agencies from buying goods and services from five Chinese companies in August 2020.

The affected companies were revealed as Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications Corp, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co, and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co.

Huawei and ZTE have both repeatedly denied claims that their equipment is insecure, telling Capacity last year that the FCC was “profoundly mistaken”.

But this has seemingly fallen on deaf ears in the US as it looks to phase out the Chinese companies’ infrastructure within the country.

However, despite Huawei’s dwindling fortunes in the US, Brazil recently ignored warnings from US authorities to implement restrictions on the use of Huawei’s 5G network. Brazil’s telecoms regulator Anatel has confirmed the country will conduct its “largest spectrum auction” ever in the coming months.

The FCC, meanwhile, has also announced senior staff changes to the Office of Managing Director and the Office of Communications Business Opportunities (OCBO).

Sanford S. Williams will assume a senior leadership position as deputy managing director in the Office of Managing Director. Joy M. Ragsdale will now lead the Office of Communications Business Opportunities after a spell at the agency’s Enforcement Bureau.