The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says it needs an additional $3 billion to fund the removal of telecommunications equipment from Chinese suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE.
Congress had set aside about $1.9 billion (opens in new tab) for the Supply Chain Reimbursement Program, which provides federal funds to operators who depend on such a kit, but the FCC says this isn’t enough.
In a letter to Senator Maria Cantwell, head of the committee on commerce, science and transportation, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel warned that unless more money was pumped into the plan, the affected telcos would receive only two-fifths of the cost.
Chinese suppliers have been largely barred from the US market due to ongoing security concerns, with major airlines opting to use radio equipment from Ericsson, Nokia and others.
However, several smaller providers still use kit from, for example, Huawei and ZTE because it is relatively cheap. The Rural Wireless Association, which represents operators with fewer than 100,000 customers, estimates that a quarter of its members have a kit made in China in their network.
The US government has imposed a series of sanctions on Huawei, ultimately leading to its current plan to remove and replace equipment it deems a security risk.
Huawei has stubbornly denied all allegations of wrongdoing, while Washington has not yet provided evidence to substantiate its claims. The Chinese government considers the US action to be politically motivated.
Separately, Huawei is also prohibited from doing business with U.S. suppliers without a license, severely restricting access to key technologies such as chips and the Android operating system. Recently, there were steps to make the licensing system even more restrictive.
Via Reuters (opens in new tab)