Bipartisan Senators Introduce 5G Bill Pushing Non-Chinese Vendors

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A group of national security-focused U.S. Senators have introduced legislation encouraging and supporting U.S. innovation in the race for 5G and pledging over $1 billion in appropriations intended for investment in Western-based network equipment alternatives to existing Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei Technologies Company Ltd. and ZTE Corp. The bill, formally entitled the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act, was introduced by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and fellow Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and John Cornyn (R-TX). Among other things, the proposed legislation would: (1) require the FCC to direct at least $750 million, or up to 5 percent of annual auction proceeds, to create an O-RAN R&D Fund to spur movement toward open architecture, software-based wireless technologies; (2) create a $500 million Multilateral Telecommunications Security Fund, available for 10 years, and in cooperation with foreign partners, to accelerate adoption of trusted and secure equipment; (3) create a transition plan for the purchase of new equipment by carriers, including small and rural carriers, that will be forward-compatible with forthcoming O-RAN equipment; (4) increase U.S. leadership in International Standards Setting Bodies (ISSBs); and (5) expand market opportunities for suppliers and promote economies-of-scale for equipment and devices by encouraging the FCC to harmonize new commercial spectrum allocations with partners where possible, thus driving down the cost of alternatives to Huawei and ZTE. In November 2019, the House of Representatives approved the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 (HR.4998) which provided up to $1 billion in funding to help rural carriers currently using Huawei and ZTE gear posing a risk to national security.

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