House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Monday to help companies as they prepare and plan to replace suspect network equipment. This would include small rural telecoms eligible for reimbursement under the Secure and Trusted Reimbursement Program established by H.R. 4998.
They authored the so-called “rip and replace” program in the measure that was signed into law earlier this year. While it has not yet been funded, the bipartisan Committee leaders say there’s every expectation it will be, and the agency should begin to initiate certain implementation steps immediately.
“While the program has not yet been funded by Congress, there is demonstrated bipartisan and bicameral support for doing so,” said Pallone and Walden in a letter. “In the meantime, carriers are moving forward to remove their suspect equipment and need guidance.”
The two Committee leaders encourage the FCC to develop and release a list of eligible equipment and software. They also asked the Commission to reassure companies that they will not jeopardize their eligibility for reimbursement under the program just because their replacement purchases were made before it was funded.
“I thank Chairman Pallone and Republican Leader Walden,” said CCA President & CEO Steven K. Berry, “for their focus on ensuring the FCC provides assistance to companies that need to replace suspect network equipment and assurance that eligibility for expenses to be reimbursed not be in jeopardy if they begin the process prior to the program being fully funded. Smaller carriers, with already limited resources, greatly depend on funds from the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program to continue providing critical wireless services to their customers as they transition to approved, more secure technologies, and the FCC plays an essential role in ensuring these companies have clear guidance during this challenging process,” Berry said.
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