Several House lawmakers introduced a bill to help carriers purchase secure network equipment to replace untrusted gear. House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), introduced
the bipartisan “Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act of 2020.”
The measure would authorize up to $750 million for a grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, in consultation with the FCC and other federal agencies, to promote and accelerate the deployment and use of open interfaced, standards-based, and interoperable 5G networks.
“Earlier this year, Congress took strong action to protect our communications networks against foreign interference from dangerous companies like Huawei and ZTE. Now, we must follow that up by promoting equipment and technologies that can ensure a more diverse, sustainable, and competitive supply chain for America’s 5G networks,” said Guthrie, Pallone, Walden, and Matsui.
They say the bill will encourage more competition in the network equipment market and help lower costs for trusted equipment over the long term. “By promoting a more competitive market of trusted alternatives to suspect 5G equipment, we can more easily secure our critical networks and bring like-minded countries with us,” said the lawmakers.
The USA Telecommunications Act of 2020 would:
- Create the Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Grant Program at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to distribute up to $750 million in grants on a competitive basis to support the deployment and use of Open RAN 5G Networks in America;
- Require a detailed report to Congress each year grants are made and a report detailing the current state of the 5G network supply chain within 180 days of enactment;
- Establish an advisory committee consisting of the FCC, federal agencies and other representatives from the private and public sectors, to advise the NTIA on technology developments to help inform the strategic direction of the grant program.
Similar legislation (S. 3189) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and four others.
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