May 23 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, along with Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK), introduced legislation to establish U.S. policy for the commercial deployment and security of Fifth Generation (5G) networks. The United States 5G Leadership Act of 2019 will prioritize national security in the development of 5G by ensuring that American networks do not include equipment or services provided by Huawei, ZTE, or their affiliates. This legislation will also create a Supply Chain Security Trust Fund grant program to help rural and regional U.S. communications providers remove from their networks Chinese equipment determined to threaten national security.
“For a number of years, the federal government failed to effectively communicate the economic and national security risks of Huawei and ZTE communications equipment – and even adopted broadband grant policies that incentivized rural carriers to use this equipment because it was the cheapest around. While we’ve made enormous progress in educating the private sector of the dangers these vendors pose, we haven’t put in place policies to help resource-strapped rural carriers address and eliminate those risks. This bill ensures that on a going-forward basis we don’t make the same mistakes in allowing companies subject to extra-judicial directions of a foreign adversary to infiltrate our nation’s communications networks. And it provides significant resources to ensure that rural and regional providers can prioritize investments that eliminate this equipment from their existing networks where it poses a security threat,” said Sen. Warner. “Lastly, it builds on efforts my colleagues and I have already undertaken to engage with and educate the private sector about security risks and vulnerabilities posed to communications networks from certain foreign suppliers. We also believe this type of effort will be an important signal to international partners that we are putting resources behind this issue, and encouraging them to do the same.”
“5G networks need to be robust and secure, and not rely on equipment or services that pose a national security risk,” said Sen. Wicker. “This legislation would ensure continued American leadership in advanced wireless technology deployment. It offers relief to those providers that need to replace foreign equipment within their networks while augmenting the availability of secure 5G networks for all Americans.”
“Future U.S. security and economic prosperity will depend on 5G technology. With so much at stake, our communications infrastructure must be protected from threats posed by foreign governments and companies like Huawei,” said Sen. Cotton. “Our bill will support 5G’s deployment in the United States while defending that technology from exploitation.”
“5G wireless will revolutionize global telecommunications and connect people, information, and technology like never before. While 5G could yield enormous benefits, it also could pose significant risks if not implemented properly,” said Sen. Markey. “We have a responsibility to ensure that this next generation of telecommunications infrastructure will safely and securely connect Americans to each other and to the rest of the world.”
“We urgently need a comprehensive strategy when it comes to the very real threat that foreign actors, particularly China, pose to our communications networks,” said Sen. Sullivan. “It is clear that this problem is only going to grow with the development of next generation communications technologies without aggressive intervention. I’m pleased to partner with Chairman Wicker on this critical issue at the intersection of national security and commerce.”
Among other measures, The United States 5G Leadership Act would:
- Establish U.S. policy to promote the deployment of secure commercial 5G networks and the development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in the U.S.
- Establish U.S. policy to identify additional spectrum for 5G, with an emphasis on promoting harmonization with global allocations;
- Establish U.S. policy that American 5G networks should not include equipment or services provided by Huawei, ZTE, or their affiliates.
- Require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to finalize rulemaking that would prohibit the use of Universal Service Fund subsidies to buy equipment or services from providers who pose a national security risk.
- Establish the Supply Chain Security Trust Fund grant program to help smaller U.S. communications providers remove Huawei equipment from their networks — and would make available up to $700 million from future spectrum auctions for this purpose.
- Require a report on current Federal government measures to ensure the secure deployment and availability of 5G networks.
- Establish an interagency program – led by the Department of Homeland Security – to share information regarding security, risks, and vulnerabilities with U.S. communications providers and trusted suppliers.
- Prioritize funding to enhance U.S. representation at international 5G standards-setting bodies, such as the International Telecommunications Union.
“I thank Senators Wicker, Cotton, Warner, Sullivan, and Markey for introducing the United States 5G Leadership Act of 2019. This bipartisan bill will help ensure that all carriers have the information and resources necessary to address security risks while advancing US leadership in 5G. I appreciate the Senators’ leadership on this important issue and look forward to continued work with Congress to ensure access to secure wireless networks, particularly in rural America,” said Steven K. Berry, President & CEO, Competitive Carriers Association.
Sen. Warner has been a leading voice in the Senate about the national security risks posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies. Last week, Sen. Warner spoke out in favor of the executive order banning U.S. telecommunications firms from installing foreign-made equipment that could threaten national security. He is also the lead sponsor of the Secure 5G and Beyond Act – a bill to safeguard next-gen mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure. Additionally, earlier this year, Sen. Warner introduced bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific, national security threats posed by foreign actors like China. As Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner has been leading a bipartisan effort to educate the private sector on the economic and security risks posed by Chinese companies like Huawei.
For the full text of this legislation, click here.