US extends anti-China bribe program to more operators

Mid-sized US operators can now apply for money to swap out Huawei and ZTE kit from their networks.

Scott Bicheno

July 15, 2021

1 Min Read
Tense relations between United States and China. Concept of conflict and stress

Mid-sized US operators can now apply for money to swap out Huawei and ZTE kit from their networks.

US Congress scraped together $1.9 billion of public money at the end of last year, to bribe operators to get rid of any Chinese gear they may have in their networks and replace it with nice, wholesome Swedish, Finnish or Korean equivalents. Somehow it seems to have excluded a lot of those operators most affected by the China purge the medium-sized rural operators.

Now, a mere seven months later, the FCC has got around to modifying the scheme such that the little guys get a piece of the action. “Today’s Order, among other changes, increases the eligibility cap for participation in the Reimbursement Program from providers serving two million or fewer customers to those with 10 million or fewer customers,” says the FCC announcement.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” said Acting Chairwoman (still) Jessica Rosenworcel. “As we strive to meet this target, the FCC will continue our work to ensure that secure alternatives exist.  We want companies cutting out high-risk hardware from their networks to have the opportunity to use trusted alternatives, including traditional end-to-end proprietary gear as well as promising newer alternatives, like interoperable open radio access network solutions, or OpenRAN.”

The announcement coincides with a new FCC initiative designed to showcase OpenRAN (read: American) vendors, which you can read all about on Light Reading. There’s nothing in the announcement that seems to compel these mid-sized operators to go for OpenRAN tech, but we wouldn’t be surprised if doing so helped their application.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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