Lumen gets ready to rip out Huawei gear

Lumen Technologies confirmed it is preparing to apply for US government funding to remove equipment provided by China's Huawei from its network.

"It's layer one equipment that cannot be used to route or redirect customer traffic," Lumen officials wrote in response to questions from Light Reading. They declined to provide further details, including how much the project would cost.

Lumen is preparing to remove Huawei equipment from its network. (Source: Lumen)
Lumen is preparing to remove Huawei equipment from its network.
(Source: Lumen)

It's no surprise that Lumen is preparing to remove the Chinese vendor's equipment. Lumen was among the 51 companies that admitted in 2020 they had "unsecure" equipment in their networks. The companies ranged from tiny wireless network operators like Union Wireless to massive fiber network operators such as Windstream and CenturyLink (now called Lumen). Such purchases occurred before federal rules barring business with the Chinese vendors.

Specifically, Lumen is preparing to file an application into the FCC's "Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program." The FCC is expected to begin approving applications in the coming months.

Colloquially dubbed the "rip-and-replace" program, the effort has collected roughly $2 billion from Congress that will be allocated to US network operators that have equipment from Huawei or ZTE in their networks. US officials have deemed such equipment a threat to national security over fears the Chinese vendors will create a conduit for Chinese spying into American networks.

The presence of Lumen in the program is noteworthy considering that smaller mobile network operators like Viaero Wireless, Union Wireless, United TelCom, SI Wireless, Viaero and James Valley Telecommunications have received the majority of the attention in the long-running matter.

However, some bigger wired Internet providers such as Verizon were also listed in 2020 among those with Huawei equipment. Verizon explained in 2020 that it operated a "relatively small number of devices" called VoiceLink for voice calls but would remove those Huawei devices by the end of 2020. The telco said it would not apply for rip-and-replace funding for the effort.

Lumen's efforts to remove Huawei's equipment comes on the heels of an announcement this week of a $1.2 billion deal with the US Department of Agriculture. Lumen said it will provide the agency with a "fully integrated wide area data transport service with secure remote access" for more than 9,500 USDA locations across the country and abroad.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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