The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday held a hearing where officials from leading tech and telecom firms posed key recommendations to lawmakers who seek to replace and further prohibit telecommunications equipment that may pose a security risk, including products from China-based Huawei and ZTE. Among the key suggestions was that any effort to "rip and replace" untrusted equipment should really be treated a "replace, then rip."
Federal agencies have been banned from using Huawei and ZTE equipment since the passing of the 2018 Defense Authorization Act, and in late 2019 the Federal Communications Commission banned telcom networks from purchasing Huawei and ZTE equipment from the agency's Universal Service Fund (USF). And just last month, Congress passed the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Act, which will establish a reimbursement program -- administered by the Federal Communications Commission, that will allow small and rural telecom operators to "rip and replace" from their networks any equipment deemed untrusted and unsafe.
Hearing witness Steven Berry, president and CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), addressed the latter legislation in a submitted written statement. Berry said that while most CCA members' networks don't have equipment from untrusted sources, those that do "want to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure our national security," but may need additional help and leeway moving forward.
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