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Senators Push for Mapping, Network Rip-and-Replace Funding

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

A bipartisan group of senators has sent a letter to that body's leadership from both parties asking that Congress fully fund already-passed legislation that mandates a suspect network tech rip-and-replace program and better FCC broadband mapping.

Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee; Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) were the lead names on a letter joined by over a dozen more Senate colleagues seeking funding for the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act and the Broadband DATA Act.  

Related: Senate Bill Would Boost Rip-and-Replace Eligibility

"Congress needs to ensure Americans have access to secure connectivity. Providing funding for rip and replace and broadband mapping will help achieve this goal," they wrote. 

Outgoing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has also been pushing Congress to come through with the money for mapping and to help smaller operators deal with the expense of ferreting out and replacing network tech from suppliers like ZTE and Huawei, the first two to be classified as network security threats in need or eliminating.

The senators point out that closing the digital divide depends on knowing where broadband is and isn't, which is why better mapping is imperative.

Also signing the letter were Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Angus King (I-Maine), David Perdue (R-Ga.), James Risch ( R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.,) Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

“I strongly agree with the 18 bipartisan Senators, and especially Chairman Wicker, for their letter urging Senate leadership and appropriations leadership to provide full funding for the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program and to implement the Broadband DATA Act," said Competitive Carriers Association President Steven K. Berry. "The Reimbursement Program is vital not only to national security, but also to small, rural telecommunications operators – many of whom provide the only service to customers in their respective areas.  Having to replace affected equipment is a massive financial and personnel undertaking, and carriers depend on congressional funding to continue to provide critical mobile broadband services to their customers.

"Additionally, I couldn’t agree more that the Broadband DATA Act should be funded to ensure more accurate broadband maps.  More accurately identifying unserved and underserved areas will help close the digital divide and will help ensure that every American, no matter where they live, work, or travel, can access necessary mobile broadband services.”