US Senators Introduce USAT Act to Boost 5G Subsidies; Propose Over $1B

By Telecom Tech Outlook | Thursday, January 16, 2020

The legislation introduced by the U.S. Senators would fund a subsidy program that will be used to improve research and development of 5G equipment and support the deployment of secure 5G technology throughout the world

Fremont, CA: Disquieted with China's dominance in 5G technology, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced a legislation to help subsidize companies developing more-secure 5G gear. Using U.S.'s wireless auction, the legislation would fund a subsidy program that will be used to improve research and development of 5G equipment and support the deployment of secure 5G technology throughout the world.

Leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, and Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, with four other senators introduced the Utilizing Strategic Allied Telecommunications Act. The legislation aims to allocate at least $750 million to companies developing 5G wireless technology. It would also create a $500 million fund to be distributed among companies providing "trusted and secure" equipment around the world.

This anticipated bill doesn't call out specific companies, but the sponsor of the legislation made it clear that the legislation is designed to offer alternatives to gear made by China-based telecom-equipment makers like ZTE and Huawei that have ties with the Chinese government.

"Every month that the U.S. does nothing, Huawei stands poised to become the cheapest, fastest, most ubiquitous global provider of 5G, while U.S. and Western companies and workers lose out on market share and jobs." Warner, who co-founded the wireless company Nextel and currently serves as vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. "It is imperative that Congress address the complex security and competitiveness challenges that Chinese-directed telecommunication companies pose."

National security officials believe the equipment from these manufacturers could be used to spy on other companies and even countries. President Donald Trump, in May last year, issued an administrative order effectively banning Huawei gear from U.S. communications networks. The Federal Communications Commission also voted last year to terminate funding to wireless carriers that use tools from these firms, because of the national security risks.

"[The] risks could prove disastrous if Huawei, a company that operates at the behest of the Chinese government, military, and intelligence services, is allowed to take over the 5G market unchecked," Burr said. "This legislation will help maintain America's competitive advantage and protect our national security by encouraging Western competitors to develop innovative, affordable, and secure 5G alternatives."

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