Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Jessica Rosenworcel (pictured) reportedly sent a letter to a US politician which stated the agency needed an additional $3.1 billion to help operators replace equipment from Chinese vendors including Huawei and ZTE.

Reuters reported Rosenworcel contacted Senator Maria Cantwell, who heads the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, outlining the need for additional funding to rip and replace the equipment from US operators’ networks.

Congress allocated $1.9 billion to the FCC Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Programme, but Rosenworcel reportedly stated it now requires just shy of $5 billion.

She reportedly added the FCC was ready to begin handling the first claims under the scheme and would prioritise based on government guidance.

Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) president and CEO Steven Berry stated Rosenworcel’s letter was a call to action and it was “clear that the funding currently in the programme still falls far short of the support needed by affected carriers”.

Joseph Franell, president of ISP Blue Mountain Networks, told Mobile World Live (MWL) he wasn’t surprised about the need for additional cash after the FCC expanded eligibility for the programme.

“There was a specific list of approved equipment to pick from for the replacements and cost continues to go up,” he said, adding Blue Mountain Networks had replaced some of its Huawei equipment but is waiting on the funds to finish the swap out.

Congress passed a law in 2019 requiring operators serving less than 10 million customers which had received government subsidies to remove network equipment which posed a national security risk.

There were claims Huawei and ZTE installed backdoors in their equipment which could be accessed by the Chinese government, assertions both companies continue to deny.

The FCC rejected appeals by the companies against designations of being a security threat in 2020.