Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Warner (D-VA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced legislation to encourage and support U.S. innovation in the race for 5G by providing over $1 billion to invest in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE, malign state-directed telecommunications companies that pose a clear and growing threat to the economic and national security of the U.S. and our allies.
Heavily subsidized by China’s government and the Chinese Communist Party, Huawei is poised to become the leading commercial provider of 5G, which will have far-reaching effects for U.S. economic and national security. Chinese state-directed technology companies such as Huawei and ZTE present unacceptable risks to our national security interests and to the integrity of information networks globally. However, U.S. efforts to convince foreign partners to ban Huawei from their networks are encumbered by a lack of viable, affordable alternatives.
The Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators committed to national security issues, would reassert U.S. and allied leadership by encouraging competition with Huawei. It will capitalize on U.S. software advantages, accelerating the development of an open-architecture model (known as O-RAN) that would allow for American innovators to enter the market for specific network components, rather than having to compete with Huawei end-to-end.
The Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act would:
- Require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to direct at least $750 million, or up to 5 percent of annual auction proceeds, from new auctioned spectrum licenses to create an O-RAN R&D Fund to spur movement towards open-architecture, software-based wireless technologies, funding innovative, ‘leap-ahead’ technologies in the U.S. mobile broadband market. The fund would be managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), with input from the FCC, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), among others;
- Create a $500 million Multilateral Telecommunications Security Fund, working with our foreign partners, available for 10 years to accelerate the adoption of trusted and secure equipment globally and to encourage multilateral participation, and require reports for Congress on use of proceeds and progress against goals to ensure ample oversight;
- Create a transition plan for the purchase of new equipment by carriers that will be forward-compatible with forthcoming O-RAN equipment so small and rural carriers are not left behind;
- Increase U.S. leadership in International Standards Setting Bodies (ISSBs) by encouraging greater U.S. participation in global and regional telecommunications standards forums and requiring the FCC write a report to Congress with specific recommendations;
- 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 promoting greater alignment with allies and driving down the cost of Huawei alternatives.