FCC urges congress for additional funding to address security risks posed by chinese telecom equipment.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a stark warning on Thursday, revealing that nearly 40% of U.S. telecom companies receiving federal assistance require supplementary government funding to eliminate equipment sourced from Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, citing significant security concerns.

According to the FCC, the estimated cost of removing this equipment amounts to $4.98 billion, far exceeding the $1.9 billion allocated by Congress for the crucial “rip and replace” initiative.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel sounded the alarm, urgently appealing to Congress for additional funding. She underscored the potential ramifications, with some carriers in the reimbursement program expressing apprehensions about the possibility of network disruptions due to insufficient funding.

Despite efforts from the White House to secure an additional $3.1 billion for equipment removal, congressional action remains pending.

In response to growing security apprehensions, Congress mandated the FCC in 2019 to compel U.S. telecom carriers benefiting from federal subsidies to expunge Chinese telecom equipment from their networks.

Under the stipulated guidelines, priority funding is allocated to applicants serving smaller customer bases, covering only 39.5% of replacement costs.

Telecom companies, having received partial funding, are now facing stringent deadlines to complete the removal, replacement, and disposal of all Huawei and ZTE equipment and services by dates ranging from May 29 to February 4, 2025, as outlined by the FCC.

The FCC highlighted the critical role of these telecom providers, particularly in rural and remote regions, where they often serve as the sole mobile broadband service providers. A failure to address the equipment issue could potentially lead to service disruptions, depriving communities of vital connectivity.

Rosenworcel emphasized the national security implications, cautioning that the presence of insecure equipment in networks could pose grave risks, underscoring the urgency of complete removal, replacement, and disposal measures.