The Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (RWA) is pleased that Congress has passed a new law authorizing up to $1 billion in funding to small rural carriers with fewer than 2 million subscribers so that these service providers may replace their Huawei and ZTE network equipment. The passage of this legislation is an important first step in securing the communications network supply chain.
The FCC’s Report and Order, Order, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, blocking use of universal service funding that rural carriers rely on to operate their networks, will take full effect soon. The passage of this legislation comes at a critical time. Without this crucial funding, rural carriers would lack the financial means to effectuate rapid replacement of the banned equipment.
RWA acknowledges the valiant effort made by Congress to ensure the continuous operation of rural networks while protecting national security. Now with a funding mechanism almost in place, rural carriers can begin planning for the removal of banned Chinese equipment from their networks. RWA now awaits President Trump’s signature for official enactment of the legislation and the appropriation of funds to ensure a path forward.