In 2019, Congress passed a law stating that the US telecom carriers receiving federal subsidies were to clear their network of any equipment from Huawei and ZTE as they posed a national security threat. To do so, Congress promised that reimbursements would be given to ensure a smooth process.
However, Congress estimated that US companies would need approximately $4.9 billion to purchase new equipment and uninstall the old ones. However, this rip and replace fund was only $1.9 billion, which was clearly not enough for the large-scale purging that Congress expected. Furthermore, the low budget also raised many questions about the entire project’s effectiveness.
Jessica Rosenworcel, the chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, calculated an estimated cost. In a letter to Senator Maria Cantwell, the head of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, she stated that the reasonable cost would be around $4.98 billion.
According to the estimated price, there is still a shortfall of around $3 billion. These prices were calculated assuming that all the Huawei gear would be ripped out and replaced with brand new gear from a company that does not threaten national security.
However, suppose the Congress is adamant about only allowing $1.9 billion for this whole operation. In that case, one could question how urgent and important it really is to Congress that Huawei and ZTE gear is removed from all US Telecomm companies.
Furthermore, according to the instructions given out to the telecom companies, they are not required to complete the work until they are reimbursed for the cost of the new gear.