The US government’s communications watchdog said on Wednesday that it is seeking ways to allow more rural telecommunications carriers to tap a federal fund to help them accelerate the removal and replacement of equipment made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, reported the South China Morning Post.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in its first open meeting since US President Joe Biden took office, said that it proposed to increase the number of rural carriers eligible to tap the reimbursement funds on national security grounds and sought to expand uptake.
Former President Donald Trump signed into law legislation last March that required the removal of equipment made by the two companies owing to concern within the US intelligence community and among lawmakers that the gear might contain bugs that would allow the transfer of US data to Beijing. Congress later approved $1.9 billion reimbursement funds to help with the costs, reported the SCMP.
“There is no task at this agency or really any part of the federal government that is more important than keeping the American people safe,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, the acting FCC chairwoman, who called the rip-and-replace effort “critical”.