back to article US carriers want to junk three times more Chinese comms kit than planned

The United States Federal Communications Commission has revealed that carriers have applied for $5.6 billion in funding to rip and replace China-made communications kit. The applications were made under the Secure And Trusted Communications Reimbursement Program, which offers to reimburse carriers with under ten million …

  1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    Good on her!

    Toss that particular grenade back in their laps & show them you're still holding the pin. If they refuse to cough up the cash to do what they require, the individuals in charge of getting it done have a perfect excuse for not doing it.

    "You want me to rip out all this otherwise good stuff, I've told you it'll cost me buckets of cash, and all you'll give me to cover it is barely a third? Sorry, but it'll take us longer to get the job done if we're forced to devote so little funds to doing it."

    But then again, given how much money the government has *already* shoveled into their coffers over the years, a threat of "Do it or we want our money back" would be enough of a cannon to their pea shooter to make them think twice about pissing off the money fountain controller.

    On one hand I want the corps to get paid to do the job, but on the other hand I know they already have been a thousand times over.

    *Sigh*

    I'll get the popcorn, someone else bring the beer...

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Good on her!

      The other question is, how much of that additional $3.7bn of kit was due for retirement anyway, so would have been replaced through attrition?

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Good on her!

        ... or due to the cost being new replacement with "much better and secure USA manufactured kit" not the original Chinese kit price?

        Good deal if you can get it - buy cheap Chinese, get it replaced with expensive US at the taxpayers expense. Not a way of steering money into megacorps back pocket or anything ...

        1. msobkow Silver badge

          Re: Good on her!

          And of course, those American providers that are booking all those replacement purchases zoom on the stock market, so shares for everyone who saw ahead and invested - like our ever prescient bankers and handfull of multi-billionaires.

          You know, the people who need ALL the government help they can get... :(

    2. HildyJ Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Good on her!

      If the government offered a company money to replace a brand they will naturally bill the government to replace everything. I know if they offered to replace my car (which has SMIC chips from China), I'd sign up because it would be a free upgrade to newer technology, not to mention new warranties.

      Keep in mind that Huawei kit is still top of the line and can compete with the European providers (Cisco is a non-starter). ZTE is competing on more price rather than technology.

      Also keep in mind that non-Chinese companies still source chips from China (Ericsson even has a new 5G factory in China).

      Just another example of the US using the wrong tactics for their strategy (assuming they have one).

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Good on her!

        "Just another example of the US using the wrong tactics for their strategy"

        It's protectionism/tradewars without actually admitting it - just like the chicken tax 25% import duty on light trucks/vans is stll in place 60 years after the issue that triggered it (food poisoning cases in West Germany traceable to imported US chicken and the appalling hygiene practices of the farms/abbatoirs - this is WHY there's a EU ban on "chlorinated chicken" (the ban is on the farming/slaughter practices, not the chlorine wash) - The USA preferred to engage in a trade war rather than encourage farmers to clean up a major health issue that remains entrenched to this day)

        It's hardly a new thing though.

        Britain invoked "yellow peril" sentiments in 1969 when strongarming New Zealand's government to overturn the contracts the NZ Post Office had signed with NEC and Fujistsu to replace aging Strowger switches and longhaul communications gear in favour of STC equipment.

        In the end it ended up costing 3-5 times as much for the British equipment (installed and running) - as the turnkey Japanese contracts. To add insult to injury the British equipment was vastly inferior in spec and reliability to the Japanese stuff which had been trialled, ending up being ripped out in favour of NEAX switches in the 1980s whilst the NEC and Fujitsu equipment it was meant to compete with kept going and barely missed a beat until the day it was turned off

        In aviation, we see it with tbe aggressiveness of Boeing sales and the way that F35s have been bulldozed into "friendly" militaries worldwide - the ultimate trojan horse, given that startup codes for these jets are only issued upon request by the State Department and are only valid for a few hours. I'm betting that gets used as leverage in trade (and other) "negotations" at some future point in time.

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Bigger Collapsed Picture .....

    See the program for what it really is ...... more incestuous QE to a failed fiat economic machine/corrupt perverted subversive and coersive system.

    It was good while it lasted and thanks for all of the phishes but worlds have moved on into and onto greener pastures with bluer skies thinking about everything when different with all manner of things so much better than was ever able to be delivered before.

    Pile aboard those constantly moving trains to novel destinations or forever be left behind to suffer and rot in the confines of one’s own self-destructive making and limited thinking.

  3. Claverhouse Silver badge
    WTF?

    Rebates to Law-Makers

    "I look forward to working with Congress to ensure that there is enough funding available for this program to advance Congress's security goals and ensure that the US will continue to lead the way on 5G security."

    .

    Though it's delightful they are, as on many things, merely continuing the work of the old master --- and have so much enough surplus from cancelling their $6 billion , $3 billion, $1.5 billion Big Bang Bill --- I'm seeing who pays the carrier cartel; but not where the government gets this $6 billion from ?

    The American Peeple loathe taxes, but whilst they will never stint on security, or protecting us all from the Wicked *, one expects will now loudly protest at funding this theatre. With the usual result of protesting in a democracy.

    .

    .

    * Note even Ukraine has just asked the White House to stop Prophesying War, and stop Protecting them so much.

  4. heyrick Silver badge

    with kit designed by American firms

    Designed by America, but manufactured where?

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: with kit designed by American firms

      > Designed by America, but manufactured where?

      Chinatown.

  5. Tromos

    Budget shortfall

    At a guess, I would assume that the amount set aside was based on what the original equipment cost, rather than the cost of the (probably inferior) replacement kit. This is what you get for requiring an actual backdoor included rather than a mythical one.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Budget shortfall

      The original number was made up to sound big enough that this was a serious problem that would get you on the news talking about how something had to be done - but not too big that the other party would block it.

      Then you ask the industry how much free money they would like and are shocked when it's higher

  6. Ashentaine

    >If Beijing really does have backdoors into Huawei and ZTE kit, it therefore has plenty of time to deploy them.

    ...and the telcos will have plenty of time to "re-allocate" all the funding they're clamoring for to replace that kit, most of which is probably many years overdue for replacement anyway and never dealt with because nobody wanted to spend money to replace what's still working and not currently on fire.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Telco equipment replacement cycles are frequently measured in decades, not the 3-5 year cycles of enterprise

      Anything less than 10 years old is unlikely to be scheduled (or overdue) for replacement

      US telcos are facing another issue anyway at the moment - Starlink - and this time state PUCs can't legislate legal local monopoly for them to get rid of the competition

  7. newman

    There's no more true expression of free market capitalism than a free upgrade for qualifying corporations paid with taxpayers dime. I bet all the corpos will not miss opportunity to also greenwash this waste as a great opportunity to replace existing kit with more efficient one. Win win (for some).

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Or will get special exemptions for their kit, serving rural area, too disruptive to remove, environmental concerns etc

      And then will use the money for stock buy backs or bonuses

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Socialize the cost, privatize the profit.

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    Ooh! While we're at it

    We can can get a new coffee machine... and some comfy office chairs, we need something nice to sit on with all this changing kit, Oh and my car is playing up and the wife was complaining about the dishwasher.....

    Is $5.6 billion going to be enough?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now, where can I buy that old kit?

    I need some gear for a new infrastructure, and I prefer kit that had its firmware properly screened, so I'm interested. At junk prices, of course, after all, it's you who declared it valueless and you got your backhander from the government already.

    No? Ah, you still need to investigate how they managed to get so much ahead you could no longer compete in an honest fashion, got it. Forgot about that one.

    1. jvf

      Re: Now, where can I buy that old kit?

      Exactly-I wonder how inflated their replacement estimates are. After all, it's "free" money.

  10. hammarbtyp

    Brill!

    I too have a lot of Chinese built kit in my possession I would like to retire...a new phone would be a nice start. Where do I apply for the dosh!

  11. Julz

    I

    Have this image of flattop ships sailing the seas with ratings throwing routers off the deck. Cheaper than dropping F35s I guess.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Nah

      Just slap a sticker on each saying "Unbreakable" and hand them out to four-year-olds as presents this Christmas. They'll all be smashed to pieces in no time, bringing a little sunshine and joy into the hearts of America's children.

    2. Blazde

      Re: I

      Plausible plot-twist that makes all this irrelevant: US buying cheap Chinese-made F35s before 2040

  12. Paul Smith

    What American replacements?

    The majority of the kit is question does not have US conterparts. It is Swedish (Ericsson) or Finnish (Nokia) and French (Alcatel/Lucent). The Americans have no skin in the 5G game.

    1. Fazal Majid

      Re: What American replacements?

      It's not all 4G/5G equipment. There is a lot of SONET/SDH optical transmission gear, and quite a lot of Ethernet switching as well.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So

    eh, what are the telcos supposed to do with all the Chinesium stuff they're replacing? Landfill? Ebay? Some of the ethernet switch equipment might still be decent gear for those of us who don't have national security issues to worry about (or aren't scared of fairy-stories about evil dark lords in foreign lands).

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: So

      +1 Feel free to mail some of that stuff to me, I'm not afraid of the bogeyman.

  14. msobkow Silver badge

    Of course. The telcos could see where it was headed, so they stocked up on cheap Chinese gear, expecting the government would pay to replace it with QUALITY gear down the road at 2-3 times the price...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Billing

    Should bill the fools that let that spy kits get installed in the first place.

    Anyone in the biz saw this coming a hundred miles away (when it went in).

  16. martinusher Silver badge

    What do you expect?

    The government puts out a trough full of money with a "Free Cash" sign on it and is surprised when it gets overwhelmed with snouts. I am so surprised.

    The problem with this scheme was that you were going to need an army of bureaucrats to ensure that the money was spent on just ripping and replacing exactly what was necessary to rip and replace and not upgrading the rest of the equipment, the break room and whatever else needs a paint job. The 'government is paying' is also not an incentive for cutthroat price competition.

    This is the price of vanity. The allocated sum could have easily overseen the monitoring of this rouge equipment for hidden Chinese backdoors or information leaks to PRC Central but it was more important to be seen to be sticking it to them so we (the Taxpayer) will end up paying the price. As usual. (...or more likely, "just stick it on the tab").

    One bright spot in all of this is that the US government doesn't have organizations like Capita like you do in the UK to perform its administrative functions. A properly organized initiative like this in the UK would probably result in a few hundred million being paid out and the rest going to 'administration'.

  17. Grinning Bandicoot

    More Than One-way Skin a Cat

    The drone that advertises with X, a brilliant engineer that designed a drone costing pennies, quit when the firm was bought and the new owner wanted to charge up the ying-yang so he quit, style (the latest being Quad Air) that has you mount the receiving half of the programming in your smart phone has its processing done at a location North and West of Peking. So the twit goes buys a drone, loads the app on his phone calls his buddy at work and a termite attack begins. (Termite attack is termites boring slowly through oak, very slow but persistent until full penetration occurs and the usual signs not present) It has been how long since the Bloomberg Report about mystery chip?

    In Econ 1 the "Theory of the Common Pasture" was presented and what presents better grazing than Guberment. Cost avoidance is prime teaching in business training so getting the servants (?) of the people to give away something that doesn't belong to them, AKA buying votes, is a fair game. Under the '30s Theories of total warfare the planting of communication attacks prior to hot war again is legit so its "Spy vs Spy"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More Than One-way Skin a Cat

      t has been how long since the Bloomberg Report about mystery chip?

      I looked at that and all the other reports that came in of it - as far as I can tell, the claim of mystery chips was utter horse sh*t.

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