National Security Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Develop 5G Alternative to Huawei

A bipartisan group of leading national security senators introduced legislation to encourage and support US innovation in the race for 5G, providing over $1 billion to invest in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE. The Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act would reassert US and Western leadership by encouraging competition with Huawei that capitalizes on US software advantages, accelerating development of an open-architecture model (known as O-RAN) that would allow for alternative vendors to enter the market for specific network components, rather than having to compete with Huawei end-to-end. The USA Telecommunications Act would:

  • Require the Federal Communications Commission 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 US 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 US leadership in International Standards Setting Bodies (ISSBs) by encouraging greater US 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.

National Security Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Develop 5G Alternative to Huawei Senators Urge $1 Billion Plan to Loosen China’s Grip on 5G (WSJ) Senators Propose $1B to Outpace Huawei in 5G. That's Small Change (Wired) Utilizing Strategic Allied Telecommunications Act Would Provide Over $1 Billion for 5G Development (telecompetitor)