FCC begins collecting data to help carriers replace Huawei and ZTE hardware

It needs that information to plan for a reimbursement program for them.

In late 2019, the FCC officially banned companies receiving Universal Service Fund subsidies to use that money to buy equipment from companies deemed a "national security threat." In other words, companies like Huawei and ZTE. The agency proposed a reimbursement program to help them, especially rural carriers, with the costs that come with changing existing equipment. Now, the FCC has revealed that it has started collecting information from carriers about their use of Huawei and ZTE equipment.

The agency is gathering data from the carriers to help it design a feasible reimbursement program and figure out if it needs to anything else to ensure a smooth transition. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Huawei's and ZTE's designations as national security threats may become final this spring. That's why the agency is "moving forward quickly to identify where equipment and services from these suppliers are embedded in [the country's] communications networks and, where they do have a foothold, to be in a position to help remove them."

In addition to asking carriers if they're using equipment or services from the Chinese tech giants, the FCC also wants to know what type of equipment or services they are, as well as the costs associated with purchasing, installing and replacing them. The carriers have to submit the information the FCC requests on or before April 22nd.