On Tuesday, November 26, 2019, the Commission released the Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order (“R&O”, “FNPRM”, and “Order”) in the Protecting Against National Security Threats to the Communications Supply Chain proceeding, which was adopted in the November Open Meeting (WC Docket No. 18-89; PS Docket Nos. 19-351, 19-352). The R&O adopts a rule that prospectively prohibits the use of USF funds to purchase, obtain, maintain, improve, modify, or otherwise support any equipment or services produced or provided by a “covered company” posing a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain. The FCC initially designates Huawei Technologies Company (“Huawei”) and ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) as covered companies and establishes a process for designating additional covered companies in the future. Comments responding to these initial designations will be due 30 days from publication of the R&O in the Federal Register. Comments should be filed in PS Docket No. 19-351 for the Huawei final designation proceeding, or in PS Docket No. 19-352 for the ZTE final designation proceeding.

The FNPRM seeks comment on additional actions to address national security threats to USF-funded networks, including a proposal to require USF recipients that are eligible telecommunications carriers (“ETCs”) to remove and replace existing equipment and services produced or provided by covered companies. The adopted FNPRM seeks comment on whether the Commission should broaden the prohibition on the use of equipment or services from covered companies to apply to non-USF recipients, as well as expand the removal and replacement requirement, regardless of the use of USF support. The Order adopts an information collection to determine the extent to which equipment and services produced or provided by covered companies exist in communications networks.

The rules adopted in the R&O will take effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. The information collection in the Order will be effective immediately upon OMB approval.

Comments on the proposals presented in the FNPRM will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Reply comments will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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