URGING FCC ASSISTANCE
The bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday to take action to ensure telecommunications providers could begin ripping out and replacing potentially suspect network equipment.
The concerns come months after President Trump signed into law the Secure and Trusted Communications Act, which bans U.S. companies from using federal funds to purchase equipment from Chinese telecom groups Huawei and ZTE, citing national security concerns.
The law, which was sponsored in the Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.), among other sponsors from both parties, also established a $1 billion fund to help smaller telecom groups rip out and replace equipment that is deemed a threat. The fund is administered by the FCC.
Pallone and Walden sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday emphasizing that while Congress had not yet fully funded this reimbursement program, the FCC should take a series of steps immediately to ensure the process of replacing potentially suspicious equipment could begin.
“It is a top bipartisan, bicameral priority of the United States Congress to ensure that our nation’s communications networks are secure,” Pallone and Walden wrote. “The United States cannot allow the critical networks upon which consumers rely to be subject to espionage and malicious disruption by hostile foreign actors.”