New legislation funds replacement of prohibited equipment

New legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate to expand funding for telecom service providers and educational institutions to rip-and-replace prohibited equipment from dangerous resources, including Huawei and ZTE. Here’s an overview.

Builds on previous legislation

This new legislation would amend the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which was signed into law in March 2020. That law did the following:

  • Directed the FCC to establish a list of covered equipment and services to be prohibited for security concerns.
  • Required the Commission to create the Secure and Trusted Communications Reimbursement Program to assist communications providers with the costs of removing prohibited equipment and replacing it with more secure equipment.
  • Prohibited the use of federal funds administered by the FCC to purchase covered communications equipment and services.
  • Provided $1 billion to fund these costs.
    • Telecom providers with two million or fewer customers are eligible.
    • Participating providers have one year to replace covered equipment using these funds.
 Legislation introduced in U.S. Senate would expand funding to replace prohibited telecom equipment

New legislation

The new legislation, entitled the Ensuring Network Security Act, would build on the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act in the following ways:

  • Include telecom providers that serve from two million to ten million customers
  • Include public and private educational institutions.

This legislation is sponsored by Senators Gary Peters and Ron Johnson.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters

“We must have affordable and reliable telecommunications grids that can withstand national security and economic challenges,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a member of the Commerce, Science and Technology Committee. “This bipartisan bill will further transition our nation away from relying on foreign telecommunications networks that may jeopardize our security – while incentivizing and encouraging domestic suppliers.”

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson

“This critical legislation addresses an eligibility issue so that all appropriate telecommunications carriers can access funds to ‘rip and replace’ equipment that poses a national security threat,” said Senator Johnson, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “In our increasingly connected world, it is imperative that 100% of our communications networks are secure, and this bill will help accomplish that.”

This new legislation, S.4472, has been read and referred to committee. Text has not yet been posted. Stay tuned for further developments.