Warner Applauds Senate Passage of Bill to Protect Communications Systems from Threats Posed by Untrusted Suppliers like Huawei and ZTE
Feb 28 2020
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, applauded Senate passage of bipartisan legislation modeled on legislation he first he introduced to protect American communications networks from threats presented by foreign suppliers like Huawei and ZTE. The legislation would offer relief to reimburse smaller telecommunications providers – largely in rural areas – by reimbursing them for the costs of removing and replacing untrusted foreign equipment.
“As our nation becomes more and more reliant on next-generation telecommunication networks, we need to be doing all that we can to make sure that our networks are secure,” said Sen. Warner. “That includes making sure that we are not allowing our foreign adversaries to infiltrate these networks, and that as a nation, we are not dependent on infrastructure supplied by foreign vendors. This important piece of legislation will help ensure the security of our networks all across the country by making it possible for providers in small and rural communities to rip and replace equipment that might pose a national security risk. I’m very encouraged by this bill’s passage and I look forward to seeing it get signed into law as quickly as possible.”
The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, which now heads to the President’s desk after securing the approval of the House and Senate, closely resembles the United States 5G Leadership Act of 2019, S. 1625, introduced by Sens. Warner and Roger Wicker (R-MS), along with Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK).
Specifically, the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 would:
- Prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from subsidizing the acquisition or maintenance of telecommunications equipment or services from untrusted suppliers.
- Create a program to reimburse telecommunications providers with fewer than two million customers. These providers will remove equipment that poses a national security risk from their networks to replace it with equipment from trusted suppliers.
- Establish an information sharing program for telecommunications providers, particularly small and rural operators, to obtain information regarding potential security risks and vulnerabilities to their networks.
Sen. Warner has been a leading voice in Congress about the national security risks posed by Chinese-controlled telecommunication companies. Earlier this year, he and a bipartisan group of leading national security Senators introduced legislation to encourage and support U.S. innovation in the race for 5G, providing over $1 billion to invest in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE. He is also the lead sponsor of the Secure 5G and Beyond Act – a bill to safeguard next-gen mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure – and has previously introduced a bill with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China.