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US extends anti-China bribe program to more operators

Mid-sized US operators can now apply for money to swap out Huawei and ZTE kit from their networks.

US Congress scraped together $1.9 billion of public money at the end of last year, to bribe operators to get rid of any Chinese gear they may have in their networks and replace it with nice, wholesome Swedish, Finnish or Korean equivalents. Somehow it seems to have excluded a lot of those operators most affected by the China purge the medium-sized rural operators.

Now, a mere seven months later, the FCC has got around to modifying the scheme such that the little guys get a piece of the action. “Today’s Order, among other changes, increases the eligibility cap for participation in the Reimbursement Program from providers serving two million or fewer customers to those with 10 million or fewer customers,” says the FCC announcement.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” said Acting Chairwoman (still) Jessica Rosenworcel. “As we strive to meet this target, the FCC will continue our work to ensure that secure alternatives exist.  We want companies cutting out high-risk hardware from their networks to have the opportunity to use trusted alternatives, including traditional end-to-end proprietary gear as well as promising newer alternatives, like interoperable open radio access network solutions, or OpenRAN.”

The announcement coincides with a new FCC initiative designed to showcase OpenRAN (read: American) vendors, which you can read all about on Light Reading. There’s nothing in the announcement that seems to compel these mid-sized operators to go for OpenRAN tech, but we wouldn’t be surprised if doing so helped their application.

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One comment

  1. Avatar B 18/07/2021 @ 8:32 am

    Once upon a time it was the US that advocated for the free and open market competition. The times are changing, and I am not sure if the taxpayers are happy to see their money thrown away into the replacement schemes like this one.
    It is to be seen if the new equipment will work better than the existing one, and if there will be additional costs for the end users. The providers didn’t choose Huawei and ZTE because they love China, but because of the quality and price.

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