WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, called for doing what is necessary to maintain America’s competitive advantage in 5G to continue to grow our digital economy and protect our national security. She called for implementing a comprehensive strategy to secure 5G technology from state-sponsored bad actors.
“I’m all in for 5G…But in the push for 5G, we need to make sure we’re not blind to some of the very important policy issues,” said Cantwell during the hearing. “Put simply, 5G networks must be secure, and that starts with having a 5G strategy that focuses on shoring up our defense against hackers and state-sponsored actors.”
In her opening remarks, Cantwell outlined the next steps needed to implement a comprehensive 5G cybersecurity strategy and maintain global leadership:
• The Trump administration must provide Congress with a real, quantifiable 5G security threat assessment.
• The United States must be certain there is a secure supply chain backing up 5G networks.
• The United States must take a hard look at whether to ban foreign bad actors from the 5G supply chain.
Cantwell also highlighted the need to work with international partners to protect the 5G supply line and prevent state-sponsored espionage.
“I know that there are state-sponsored actors who have hacked our networks, and I want all of us to work more closely together to call out, on an international basis, those wrong actors, and work together to try to prevent them in a broader coalition,” said Cantwell.
When fully deployed, 5G technology will increase mobile internet speeds by up to 20x over current 4G technology, according to Qualcomm. And the benefits of 5G are not limited to mobile devices. 5G will enable economic growth and be a platform for change in areas like driverless cars, energy consumption, artificial intelligence, city planning, climate research, manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and how we all access and consume information.
“If we roll up our sleeves, get serious about the cyber issues, and continue to make the right investments in the innovation economy and the race to win in 5G, the United States will do very, very well,” said Cantwell.
A transcript of Senator Cantwell’s full remarks are below.
CANTWELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this important hearing today on 5G. I welcome all the witnesses who are here today, especially our witness from Spokane, who’s going to talk about smart city innovation.
But we’re here to talk generally about how the United States maintains its competitive advantage in 5G and how we use this new technology to help us in growing our digital economy. Already in the state of Washington a lot of 5G investments are being made to continue the growth of what our country knows is a trillion dollar opportunity and a continuation of the innovation economy.
So, I’m all in for 5G. We know that, along with various applications that you already mentioned, Mr. Chairman – on artificial intelligence and quantum computing – that we will really reshape our economy for the future. That the innovations that 5G will help us unleash will help us in many, many important aspects of our national agenda, national defense, and important partnerships for the future.
But in the push for 5G, we need to make sure we’re not blind to some of the very important policy issues. Put simply, 5G networks must be secure, and that starts with having a cybersecurity strategy that focuses on shoring up our defense against hackers and state-sponsored actors of cyberterrorism.
Protecting national security means making sure that America’s economy is strong and that we remain a global leader. Cybersecurity is one thing I wish I would have heard more from the President on last night. We know that with artificial intelligence and quantum computing, that applications made possible with 5G can transform innovation, change our modern warfare, creating military advantages through integrated military operations, but we need to make sure that this network is safe.
So, the more that we rely on these networks to drive productivity and efficiency and sustainability, whether it is our businesses or our military applications, we need to make sure that the promise of a 5G network does reach that level of security.
So, a few things that I think we need to think about. First, we must be certain that there is a secure supply chain backing up our 5G system. We cannot tolerate a leaky valve or a back-door into these networks. Second, the administration should provide us with a real, quantifiable 5G threat assessment so we can work fully to make sure our network is secure. And three, we need to have a serious conversation about what level, if any, of foreign components we are going to allow into the 5G network.
I know that there are state-sponsored actors who have hacked our networks, and I want all of us to work more closely together to call out, on an international basis, those wrong actors, and work together to try to prevent them in a broader coalition. We need to make sure that we are all hands on deck. I want the FCC to use its existing authorities to make sure these networks are safe and secure, and to know that Congress is watching.
So, I know if we roll up our sleeves, get serious about the cyber issues, and continue to make the right investments, that the innovation economy and the race to win in 5G, the United States will do very, very well.
More importantly, we need to continue to talk about the great applications that 5G will empower. That is why I’m so happy today that we have a witness from the smart cities and innovation area to talk about exactly what this can do for our local governments. Local governments are always cash-strapped, so to know that they can make smart technology infrastructure upgrades that can help save money in the future is something I think is very important.
I especially want to welcome Kim Zentz, the CEO of Urbanova, who is on the panel today, and to talk about how that cutting-edge collaboration between Washington State University, the City of Spokane, and a group of innovators are already exploring ways to leverage technology and data analytics to move our cities towards a more sustainable future. This is something that I know many of my colleagues on this committee have already sponsored legislation related to this.
Mr. Chairman, I know that we’ll have a chance at a future hearing to talk about, again, how we access rural broadband and do a better job, but as we’re talking about 5G, I think that we need to put as much enthusiasm into the discussion of what will 5G investments do for us in the area of rural and underserved areas, like Tribal communities, into broadband.
And lastly, Mr. Chairman, I should just mention, since you mentioned the value of the mid-band and how important that was, that as we talk about how we move forward on capitalization of this effort, that valuable mid-band spectrum license to satellite providers years ago is a very valuable commodity, and I think that we need to make sure that the U.S. taxpayer is involved in getting the best out of that as possible.
So, with that Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses and look forward to what our colleagues have to say about this issue during the Q&A. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.