Senate passes ‘rip and replace’ bill to remove old Huawei and ZTE equipment from networks

The U.S. Senate today voted unanimously to pass the Secure and Trusted Telecommunications Networks Act. Written as a response to recent concerns around Chinese hardware manufacturers, the bill would ban purchase of telecom equipment from embattled Chinese manufactures like Huawei and ZTE.

H.R. 4998, which passed the House last December, would also include $1 billion in funding to help smaller rural telecoms “rip and replace” existing equipment from specific manufacturers. The bill still needs to be signed off by Trump in order to become a law, though Politico notes that the administration has already acknowledged support for the funding, which would be managed by the FCC.

“Telecommunications equipment from certain foreign adversaries poses a significant threat to our national security, economic prosperity, and the future of U.S. leadership in advanced wireless technology,” Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said of the bipartisan bill in a statement. “By establishing a ‘rip and replace’ program, this legislation will provide meaningful safeguards for our communications networks and more secure connections for Americans. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for coming together to help move this bill to the President’s desk.”

Huawei in particular has been the focus of U.S. concern over alleged ties to the Chinese government for a number of years. The Trump administration has targeted the company over spying concerns — charges Huawei has long staunchly denied. Last May, the company was added to an entity list, effectively barring U.S. companies from conducting business with the hardware giant.

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