Senators urge funding for securing 5G networks
A bipartisan group of senators is pushing President Biden to request at least $3 billion as part of his budget request for the adoption of 5G alternatives to Chinese-made equipment.
The group, led by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, is urging Biden to request at least $1.5 billion each for two funds established by Congress to encourage the adoption of Open Radio Access Network equipment, which would allow additional vendors to enter the 5G market and compete with manufacturers like Huawei, which is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government.
“Current RAN infrastructure relies on closed, end-to-end hardware solutions that are expensive to operate and dominated by foreign companies,” the senators wrote in a letter. “For example, Huawei, a company with inextricable links to the Chinese government and a history of disregard for the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, offers end-to-end RAN hardware, which poses significant counterintelligence concerns.
“For years, we have called on telecommunications providers in the U.S., as well as our allies and partners, to reject Huawei 5G technology, but we have not provided competitively-priced, innovative alternatives that would address their needs. As wireless networks adapt to the growing demands for 5G connectivity, a new Open RAN architecture will allow telecommunications providers to migrate from the current hardware-centric approach into a software-centric model that relies heavily on cloud-based services.
“This architecture will break down the current end-to-end proprietary stack of hardware; lower barriers to entry and prompt innovation; diversify the supply chain and decrease dependence on foreign suppliers; and spur Open RAN deployments throughout the United States, particularly in rural America. Providing resources for these Funds in your budget request presents an opportunity to realize this vision.”
The letter was signed by Senate Intelligence Committee members Mark Warner (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Angus King (I-ME), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).