The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Sept. 4 that the total cost of removing and replacing telecommunications equipment made by China-based Huawei and ZTE from the networks of smaller U.S. carriers could be more than $1.6 billion.

The FCC released a notice stating that smaller U.S. telcos estimate it would cost $1.8 billion to remove and replace Huawei and ZTE equipment in their networks. Of that $1.8 billion, the FCC said $1.6 billion appears to eligible under the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act signed in March.

That law, however, only provides $1 billion of funding for smaller U.S. telcos to replace the Chinese network equipment.

“The FCC’s estimate of the costs of replacing suspect equipment in U.S. networks shows just how prevalent suspect equipment is – particularly among smaller carriers who cannot afford to replace it on their own,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement. “That’s why it’s critical Congress fund the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act’s rip and replace program to secure our communications supply chain.”

Chairman Pallone also touted his co-sponsored bill the USA Telecommunications Act, which would create a grant program for Open RAN network equipment.

“Promoting new, secure technologies is also critical to our long-term national security, which is why I am committed to seeing my USA Telecommunication Act become law,” Chairman Pallone said. “Congress must continue to take an active, bipartisan role in tackling this issue head-on.”

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Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.