The U.S. Federal Communications Commission issued an order late last year that barred carriers subsidized through the Universal Service Fund (USF) from buying Huawei and ZTE equipment using that money over national security concerns. That order also required USF recipients to replace existing equipment supplied by the Chinese companies.
Today, the FCC reported that removing and replacing Huawei and ZTE equipment in the covered companies' networks could cost approximately $1.837 billion. This was based on information collected by the agency from carriers, including Verizon and CenturyLink, that receive support through the USF. In addition, many of the carriers eligible for reimbursement have estimated that it may cost approximately $1.618 billion to ditch those pieces of equipment.
Regarding today's annoumcent, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said:
"“It is a top priority of our nation and this Commission to promote the security of our country’s communications networks. That’s why we sought comprehensive information from U.S. carriers about equipment and services from untrusted vendors that have already been installed in our networks. Today’s announcement marks a critical milestone in our ongoing commitment to secure our networks."
Pai also noted that the Congress has yet to appropriate funds to reimburse carriers that are required to replace network equipment deemed to be a national security threat. He has also urged lawmakers to do so.
The FCC has identified 51 carriers with tech from those companies that are eligible for reimbursement. In June, the Chinese firms were formally designated as national security threats after the U.S. government extended its trade ban on Huawei through 2021.