“Rip and Replace” remains in limbo as only five unidentified telecom companies replace Chinese equipment

In Featured News by Wireless Estimator

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a report for Congress, underscoring that only five telecommunications companies have concluded the removal of technology equipment provided by firms closely associated with the Chinese Communist government.

Based on the latest status reports and final certifications, the Bureau estimates that approximately 10% of recipients have completed the permanent removal, replacement, and disposal of all covered communications equipment and services in their networks.

The Bureau has received final certifications from four recipients confirming the completion of their removal, replacement, and disposal efforts.

Additionally, one recipient with multiple applications submitted a final certification for one of its applications. However, the report refrained from disclosing the identities of these five companies.

To date, the FCC has received 12,983 reimbursement claims from 122 of the 126 approved applications for funding allocation. Budget officials at the agency have approved disbursements totaling $396.5 million, encompassing removal and replacement costs.

In 2019, Congress passed the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, granting the FCC authority to reimburse specific telecommunications providers for removing equipment and services from Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. within one year of receiving funds.

Huawei and ZTE, headquartered near Hong Kong in Shenzhen, are global telecommunications equipment suppliers, including technology for advanced 5G wireless networks. While Huawei claims to be entirely employee-owned, reports suggest that the Chinese government holds a significant stake in ZTE, which manufactures budget-friendly Android smartphones.

The FCC’s report was prepared for the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, both responsible for overseeing the FCC and the communications sector.

The FCC acknowledged that funding recipients cited a slow pace of progress due to challenges such as inadequate funding, delays in the supply chain, labor shortages, and weather-related issues.

The “rip and replace” program, as it is colloquially known in the 2019 law, was allocated $1.9 billion by Congress. However, funding requests amounted to $4.98 billion, resulting in a shortfall of $3.08 billion.