In March of 2020 Donald Trump signed a bill requiring rural telecom companies to replace suspected vulnerable Huawei telecom equipment. The government would even pay for the replacement. For whatever reason, the Trump administration never did anything to make that happen.
Finally, 18 months later (if this is really a security threat, shouldn’t something have happened sooner?), the FCC has laid out the rules for carriers to get reimbursed.
Note that carriers have still not received a dime and likely have not replaced any vulnerable equipment unless it was unrepairable.
For carriers with less than 10 million customers (they are not helping Comcast or AT&T and probably should not) and even some schools if they are acting as an Internet provider, they can be reimbursed for the cost of removing and replacing vulnerable equipment.
Very nicely, the FCC says that if the carrier replaces any old 4G network with, say a new 5G network, those costs may be covered.
On the other hand, if the carrier was connecting towers by microwave radio and they decided to upgrade that to fiber, that is not covered.
But, if the old tower will not hold the new equipment, the FCC will consider paying for a new tower.
Carriers will be able to recover vendor installation costs and labor costs of employees who are replacing the equipment.
After delaying this for 18+ months, the FCC now says that carriers have from October 29th to January 14th to ask for reimbursement. Applicants will find out if they are a winner in Q2 2022 – two years after the law was passed.
At that point, winning carriers can start ORDERING equipment, which will likely take years to get and deploy.
I assume this is a real problem. I don’t know, but it certainly is consistent with things the Chinese might do.
Not related to this, but curiously timed, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of its founder, who has been under house arrest in Canada for several years, reached a deal to avoid prosecution by admitting that she mislead lenders about her and their relationship with Iran. While she did not plead guilty to the fraud charges, admitting that she lied to banks about their dealings with Iran in spite of there being sanctions in place at the time, doesn’t give me any warm feelings that they would not sell us out if it was convenient (or profitable) for them.
It would certainly be better if the government moved quicker. Credit: ZDNet