Starks on Suspect Tech Expulsion: Find It. Fix It. Fund It

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks will convene stakeholders next week to work on identifying and preventing insecure equipment from inhabiting U.S. networks, particularly that already in the pipeline. 

Geoffrey Starks

Geoffrey Starks

The FCC is already contemplating excluding carriers with such equipment from tapping into broadband subsidies, but the issue is broader and Starks told a Federal Communications Bar Association gathering that the there needs to be a concerted effort to not only keep it out but weed it out, an effort he has branded: Find it. Fix it. Fund it. 

He said that constitutes understanding the scope of the threat; "transitioning" carriers away from insecure equipment already in their networks, which he concedes is easier said than done; and give the small carriers who have used suspect tech due to its lower price some financial help with the expense of rooting it out. 

Starks pointed out the FCC was still considering whether to exclude companies like Chinese telecoms ZTE and Huawei from Universal Service Fund support, as well as the FCC's decision to deny an application of China Mobile to interconnect with U.S. networks. 

He also pointed to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which prevents government money to procure suspect tech and the President's executive order prohibiting buying telecom equipment considered to be a national security risk. 

But he said none of that gets to the issue of replacing the technology already in the system. 

"The clock is ticking, and it has been for some time," he said. "We need to act as quickly as practicable."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.