Wicker, Hickenlooper Introduce Bill to Promote Communications Supply Chain Diversity

May 12, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., chair of the Subcommittee on Space and Science, introduced the Telecommunications Supply Chain Diversity Promotion Act. The legislation would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to establish a testbed to develop and demonstrate innovative supply chain technologies and applications, and establish a grant program to promote the participation of U.S. companies in international standards-setting bodies. 

“Advanced communications network technologies hold the promise of increasing U.S. competitiveness on the global stage, connecting Americans in ways like never before, and creating untold economic opportunity,” said Wicker. “However, threats to the security of those networks are steadily growing. This legislation would help combat those vulnerabilities by increasing vendor diversity and promoting the use of trusted equipment around the world.”

“Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment comes with too great a risk of espionage,” said Hickenlooper. “Yet, other, more secure sources of this equipment are hard to obtain. This bill would supports development of new technology at the Institute of Telecommunication Sciences in Colorado. We won’t sacrifice security to maintain leadership in the race to 5G.”

The Telecommunications Supply Chain Diversity Promotion Act would:

  • Task NTIA with developing a testbed for demonstrating the potential network architecture and applications for Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN), including a specific consideration of rural network deployment;
  • Require NTIA to work with industry, FirstNet, and other federal agencies to examine potential uses for Open RAN technology;
  • Authorize $20 million for NTIA to stand up the testbed program, and require NTIA to report to Congress with recommendations for further legislative actions to promote the adoption and deployment of Open RAN;
  • Create a grant program to provide US companies with financial assistance for participation in eligible standard-setting bodies for the formation of standards for Open RAN; and
  • Authorize $30 million for the Department of Commerce to distribute in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission. 

Click here to read the bill.