Several concerns regarding national security have been raised about the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment in U.S. networks, but small carriers are struggling with the cost of replacing the equipment. A new report from the Federal Communications Commission suggests that removing the Chinese equipment will cost small carriers as much as $1.8 billion.
According to Eastern Oregon Telecom, replacing the $500,000 of Huawei equipment is likely to cost an enormous amount of $1.5 million.
Moreover, the FCC's report is focused on carriers that receive support from the Universal Service Fund and is meant to subsidize coverage of undeserved areas. The report does not cover all the carriers in the U.S. using Huawei and ZTE equipment. This suggests that there may be many eligible carriers who haven't reported their equipment yet, therefore, the replacement cost would actually be much higher than the estimated $1.8 billion.
Huawei and ZTE were designated as risk to national security by the FCC back in in June. As a result, telecoms were not allowed to use federal subsidies to purchase their equipment. However, the task of replacing or removing the Huawei and ZTE equipment that is already in use has not been brought into action as carriers can not afford to do so without federal assistance.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai encouraged the Congress to take action to appropriate the money to pay for the equipment replacement. Pai further said that small and rural carriers, especially, ''rely on infrastructure from trusted vendors.''.