The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reported operators’ requests for funding to replace Chinese network equipment totalled $5.6 billion, almost three-times the $1.9 billion allocated by the government.

Operators serving less than 10 million customers which used government subsidies to buy Huawei or ZTE equipment before 30 June 2020 were eligible to apply for funding to cover costs associated with removing, replacing and disposing of the kit.

The FCC stated 181 operators submitted applications by a deadline of 28 January.

FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel pledged to work with the government to ensure the programme has the funding necessary to advance national security goals.

She added the agency has not finished thoroughly reviewing all 181 applications, but stated operators which applied to the programme have “plans to remove and replace equipment in their networks that pose a national security threat”.

Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) president and CEO Steven Berry issued a statement calling on the government to “ensure the programme is fully funded” to ensure connectivity is maintained as operators “transition their networks”.

The FCC issued a catalogue of eligible expenses and estimated costs for operators to use as a guide in preparing budgets for shifts in LTE and 5G networks based on information from a number of vendors.

Some operators and vendors have disclosed plans to use the FCC programme to change network architectures, which is factored into the catalogue.

A number of open RAN options are included, as are cloud-hosted core networks which are priced in a range of $320,000 to $24.4 million.