The FCC’s “Rip & Replace” program to reimburse small, rural carriers for removing and replacing untrusted gear from their networks has taken another step. The agency Thursday chose Ernst & Young to administer the $1.9 billion program.
Ernst & Young will manage the reimbursement system and review requests submitted by carriers. The Commission called the selection “a significant step” in implementing the project. It will facilitate the removal, replacement, and disposal of communications equipment and services posing a national security risk, according to the agency.
The Commission will also establish an information sharing program for telecoms, especially small and rural operators, to obtain information regarding potential security risks and vulnerabilities to their networks.
During testimony before Congress last year on the concept, Competitive Carriers Association President/CEO Steve Berry told lawmakers the program will help give clear guidance to carriers from the federal government concerning network security. The money will help carriers that must essentially build a new network first, and then rip out the untrusted gear. And they must do so while they maintain service, Inside Towers reported.
“It’s like building a separate network, while you operate a network, while you transition,” Berry testified.
The FCC said Ernst & Young has a proven track record of successfully administering the Commission’s reimbursement program for television broadcasters that were repacked following the broadcast incentive auction.
The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, signed into law last March, directs the FCC to establish the program.