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Senate Bill Would Boost Network Rip-and-Replace Eligibility

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

The Senate Commerce Committee is marking up a bill this week (Nov. 18) that would expand the number of broadband suppliers eligible for $1 billion in funding to rip and replace suspect tech, like that of Huawei and ZTE.

The bill, S. 4472, the Ensuring Network Security Act, amends that rip and replace program, the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, by upping the threshold for companies eligible for the money from those with 2 million or fewer subs to those with 10 million or fewer, and by expanding eligibility to eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs).

Related: FCC Says Huawei, ZTE Rip and Replace Will Cost $1.8B

The bill also expands the fund to include non-commercial educational institutions with their own facilities-based broadband services.

The ETCs and the noncoms will only get the money after all the applicants with 2 million or fewer subs have gotten their money.

Related: Secure Networks Act Passes Senate

Back in September, the price for extracting from U.S. networks equipment and software from Chinese vendors deemed security threats by the Trump Administration would come in at around $1.8 billion, according to figures released by the FCC. The agency also said that most of that money, $1.6 billion of it, could be eligible for reimbursement to U.S. network operators from the federal government.