President Donald Trump signed the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, solidifying $1 billion in funding for smaller telecommunications providers to rip out and replace equipment from Chinese firms, such as Huawei and ZTE.

“The security and prosperity of the United States depend on high-speed, reliable, and secure communication networks,” President Trump said.

The bill bars the Federal Communications Commission from subsidizing equipment or services from “untrusted suppliers,” creates a program to reimburse telecommunications providers with fewer than two million customers to replace equipment that “poses a national security risk,” and establishes an information sharing program for telecom providers to obtain information on potential security risks.

“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,” Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said when the bill passed the Senate. “By establishing a ‘rip and replace’ program, this legislation will provide meaningful safeguards for our communications networks and more secure connections for Americans.”

Introduced in the House in September 2019, the legislation aimed to mitigate fears of foreign interference with American 5G infrastructure. It was approved in the House in January and cleared the Senate last month.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.