Rip and Replace Bill, NTIA Head on 6G, Charter’s New Promotion

The FCC has said there is a $3 billion shortfall in funding to replace security threat equipment.

Rip and Replace Bill, NTIA Head on 6G, Charter’s New Promotion
Photo of Sen. Josh Hawley taken 2022 by Gage Skidmore

April 24, 2023 – Senators have introduced a bill Friday that would top up the fund that reimburses providers for having to replace network equipment deemed a national security threat.

The Defend Our Networks Act, introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, and John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, would address the $3 billion shortfall identified by the Federal Communications Commission in its Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program, also known as the “rip and replace” program.

“Discarding the roughly 24,000 pieces of Chinese-made communications equipment across the United States is critical to protecting U.S. national security from spying and other threats,” a press release from the senators said. “Failure to properly fund the Rip and Replace Program would also devastate communications access in rural communities throughout the country, as providers are faced with shutting down insecure network elements.”

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel applauded the move, saying the responsibility to tackle national security threats is “always evolving and why we must do all we can to fully fund the replacement of insecure equipment throughout the country.”

Late last month, Senator Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said he would push Congress to make the funding shortfall a priority. In January, the FCC said in a report that nearly half of respondents required to submit status reports on their replacement efforts complained about a lack of funding.

Industry associations, including the Competitive Carriers Association and the Rural Wireless Association, have raised the issue to the FCC for months. The fact that the omnibus spending bill didn’t include rip and replace funding apparently “stunned” the Telecommunications Industry Association.

“Fully funding the program is the only way to fulfill this national security mandate and remove untrusted equipment while maintaining connectivity, not only in Nebraska and Colorado, but across the nation,” CCA CEO Tim Donovan said in a statement following the introduction of the bill that.

NTIA head raising need to plan ahead for 6G

The head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Friday that policy makers need to start looking at how 6G technology can be utilized in the future.

“It may seem strange to be talking about 6G at a time when so many Americans and people around the world are still just learning about 5G and the promises it holds,” Alan Davidson said during his opening remarks at a 6G event in Washington D.C. “But we know from past experience that we need to be planning ahead.

“It is so important for policymakers to look ahead to this next-generation technology and how we can harness the innovations it will bring,” Davidson added.

Davidson noted that 6G will maximize the use of artificial intelligence, coverage in hard-to-reach areas, and reducing power consumption and increased energy efficiency.

The head also touched on the NTIA’s $1.5 billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, which opened for applications earlier this month. He noted that the fund will spur development of “open, interoperable, and standards-based networks.

“These networks will almost certainly make up the backbone of 6G.”

Charter shuffles executive team in light of retirement

Telecom Charter Communications announced Thursday the promotion of Paul Woelk to senior vice president of business planning for its cable operations.

Beside business planning, Woelk will also be responsible for consolidating budgets and forecasts globally, a press release said.

“Paul’s vast experience in and knowledge of our operations makes him well-suited for this expanded role,” Adam Ray, executive vice president and chief commercial officer said in the release. “I look forward to working with him and his team to continue building practical models that help guide our day-to-day operations to even greater success.”

Woelk, who joined Charter in 2016, is replacing Jim Nuzzo, who the company said is planning to retire in early 2024. Woelk previously spent nine years at Sprint and came to Charter from the acquisition of Bright House Networks, where he was in the network engineering and operations group.

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