Senate Leaders Announce Bipartisan 5G Leadership Act

May 22, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Mark Warner, D-Va., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, today introduced the United States 5G Leadership Act of 2019. This legislation would establish U.S. policy for the commercial deployment and security of Fifth Generation (5G) networks by creating the Supply Chain Security Trust Fund grant program. This program would help U.S. communications providers remove from their networks Chinese equipment determined to threaten national security.

“5G networks need to be robust and secure, and not rely on equipment or services that pose a national security risk,” Wicker said. “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 Cotton “Our bill will support 5G’s deployment in the United States while defending that technology from exploitation.”  

“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 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 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 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.”

Highlights of the 5G Leadership Act include:

  • Establishes 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.
  • Establishes U.S. policy that American 5G networks should not include equipment or services provided by Huawei, ZTE, or their affiliates.
  • Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to finalize its rulemaking that would prohibit the use of Universal Service Fund subsidies to buy equipment or services from providers who pose a national security risk. 
  • Establishes the Supply Chain Security Trust Fund grant program to help U.S. communications providers remove Huawei equipment from their networks — makes available up to $700 million from future spectrum auctions for this purpose. 
  • Requires a report on steps that the Federal government is taking to ensure the secure deployment and availability of 5G networks.
  • Establishes an interagency program – led by the Department of Homeland Security – to share information regarding security, risks, and vulnerabilities with U.S. communications providers. 
  • Prioritizes funding to enhance U.S. representation at international 5G standards setting bodies, such as the International Telecommunications Union.

To read the full bill, click here.