The Competitive Carriers Association is pleased that getting funding for smaller rural carriers to remove and replace untrusted equipment from their networks is getting attention before this session of Congress leaves for its August break.
As lawmakers make funding decisions this week, Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) urged leadership of the House Appropriations Committee to fund the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act. The FCC lacks funding to begin administering the “rip and replace” reimbursement program for vulnerable equipment that could hamper essential telecommunications infrastructure, they said in a letter.
“Many telecommunications providers—including those serving rural areas—purchased this equipment before these concerns were understood and continue to rely upon this suspect equipment to operate their networks and provide service to their customers,” O’Halleran and Kinzinger stated. The Act includes collecting information from telecoms on the prevalence of untrusted equipment in domestic networks, prohibits Universal Service Fund money from being used to purchase vulnerable equipment, and formally designates Huawei and ZTE as national security threats.
CCA President/CEO Steve Berry said: “Providing the FCC with sufficient resources for the reimbursement program will help assuage concerns and allow competitive carriers that must replace covered network elements to move forward with that process. I couldn’t agree more that reliable telecommunications infrastructure is absolutely essential to consumers’ well-being and the economy, especially during these challenging times. I support this request and urge Congress to appropriate the resources necessary to implement this important program.”