UPDATE Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, released new, updated state-by-state data from the FCC this week on its Rip & Replace reimbursement program. The new data shows Nebraska has received the most reimbursement money, more than $122 million. Colorado is next at $68 million, followed by New York at $32 million and Michigan at $14 million.
Previous data from the FCC was attributed to the location of a company’s corporate headquarters rather than the location of actual project sites – leading to a misrepresentation of the nationwide distribution of projects, according to Matsui.
Matsui is co-author of the legislation that funded Rip & Replace, the bipartisan Secure and Trusted Networks Act. “The data I requested from the FCC is crystal clear: there is an alarming amount of vulnerable gear in American telecommunications networks affecting nearly every single state in the country.” She called it “a national security imperative to immediately remove every last piece of this vulnerable equipment,” a job that must be completed “as soon as possible.”
“CCA commends Congresswoman Matsui for her continued leadership on this important national security issue,” said Competitive Carriers Association President/CEO Tim Donovan. “Recent committee activity has highlighted the broad, bipartisan interest in fully funding the reimbursement program, and I hope that this updated data helps demonstrate the broad and urgent need to finally address this issue across America.”
Inside Towers reported the FCC has approved approximately $5 billion in requests by carriers for reimbursements to rip out, destroy and replace untrusted Huawei and ZTE gear. Congress only appropriated $1.9 billion towards Rip & Replace, leaving a funding shortfall. According to new data, the agency has paid out $429 million for these requests.
A bill introduced last year by Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) may finally be getting action. The Defend Our Networks Act would remove Chinese network gear and “secure rural communications without network disruptions — all using funding already expended by Congress,” they recently said as they urged their colleagues to pass the measure. The Act would use roughly three percent of unobligated emergency COVID-relief funds to address the budget shortfall, Inside Towers reported.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief