As we reported in July, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has moved ahead with a plan for reimbursing telecoms companies for the cost of removing, replacing, and disposing of communications equipment that "poses an unacceptable risk to national security," targeting equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE that is used in smaller communications networks. The FCC has now set a "filing window" for companies to request these reimbursements that lasts from October 29, 2021 to January 14, 2022.
In the frequently asked questions that accompany the FCC's announcement, the FCC explains that "the Reimbursement Program will reimburse providers of advanced communications services with ten million or fewer customers for costs reasonably incurred for the removal, replacement, and disposal of covered communications equipment or services that pose a national security risk." Currently, "covered communications equipment or services are limited to communications equipment or services produced or provided by Huawei Technologies Company (Huawei) or ZTE Corporation (ZTE) that were obtained by providers on or before June 30, 2020."
It also notes that in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, "Congress appropriated approximately $1.9 billion in funding for the Reimbursement Program."
Finally, the FCC also explains that "[t]he term 'advanced communications service' means high-speed switched, broadband telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications using any technology with connection speeds of at least 200 kbps in either direction." In addition to Eligible Telecommunications Carriers, "Providers of advanced communications service could include schools, libraries or health care providers, or consortiums thereof, to the extent they provide such facilities-based broadband service to end users."