FCC lays out rules for replacing Huawei and ZTE telecoms equipment

The agency affirmed its stance that Huawei is a national security threat.

The Federal Communications Commission has taken a further step towards forcing providers to remove Huawei and ZTE equipment from their networks. Commissioners voted 5-0 to create a list of banned gear.

The FCC also formally established a program to reimburse eligible smaller providers for replacing equipment that's deemed a risk to national security. It's waiting for Congress to allocate funding, and the agency estimates it'll take at least $1.6 billion to cover the reimbursement costs.

Once the funding is in place, "carriers that receive universal service funding to provide service in remote areas of the country must remove such equipment or services from their networks and properly dispose of it," according to the order. The agency says these measures will enforce the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, which became law in March.

The FCC said last year that providers can't use subsidies to buy Huawei or ZTE equipment. On Thursday, the agency denied a request from Huawei to reconsider its designation of the company as a national security threat.

Meanwhile, the FCC is looking into whether to block China Telecom's ability to operate in the US. Two senators asked the agency in September 2019 to review the licenses of that company and China Unicom, both of which are owned by the Chinese state.