FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said she plans to have commissioners vote at the agency’s July 13 meeting on a report and order to implement the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program. The program – worth nearly $1.9 billion – is intended to help network service providers replace equipment in their networks made by China-based Huawei, ZTE, and any other providers that the Federal government may deem as risky to national security.
The program was created as part of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which was signed into law in 2019, and the FCC has been working on ways to implement it since then.
In a blog post previewing the July meeting, Rosenworcel said the FCC is “putting the finishing touches” on the Rip and Replace program. She noted that late last year Congress allocated $1.895 billion for the program, while also calling for modifications. During the July meeting, the FCC will be voting on a report and order to incorporate the congressionally-mandated changes, which include expanding eligibility for the program to allow more carriers to participate, and expanding the types of services and equipment that are eligible for reimbursement funding.
The vote follows the FCC updating its list of communications equipment and services suppliers that it says pose an “unacceptable risk” to national security or the security and safety of United States citizens during its March meeting. The list currently includes five Chinese companies that produce telecommunications equipment and services: Huawei Technologies Co., ZTE Corp., Hytera Communications Corp., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., and Dahua Technology Co.
During the July meeting, the FCC will also be voting on a proposal to mandate electronic filings for certain applications to its International Bureau and to remove certain duplicate paper filing requirements.
It will also consider items related to emerging short-range radar sensing technologies. Rosenworcel explained that “state-of-the-art radar sensing technology is enabling a new era of technological innovation that is shaping the future of the cars we drive and the phones in our pockets.” She continued, “with the right policies in place, we can help spur the use of these radars for vital sign monitoring in car seats that will enhance in-vehicle safety, for touchless control of device functions or features that can benefit users with mobility or speech impairments, and for much, much more.”