Senators Urge Biden to Request At Least $3 Billion for Open-architecture Alternatives to Chinese Vendors Like Huawei
Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues in urging President Joe Biden to request at least $3 billion for the adoption of 5G alternatives to Chinese-made equipment as part of his budget request to Congress. Specifically, Bennet and the senators urged Biden to request at least $1.5 billion each for two funds established by Congress to encourage the adoption of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) 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.
“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,” wrote Bennet and the senators.
Bennet has supported policies that invest in America’s competitiveness and combat challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party’s growing influence. Earlier this year, Bennet introduced legislation to develop a partnership and strategy among democratic countries to compete against the growing technological strength and influence of China and other authoritarian regimes. In January 2020, Bennet introduced the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act, which established the two funds referenced in the letter.
In addition to Bennet, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
The text of the letter is available HERE and below.
Dear Mr. President:
As you prepare your budget request for Fiscal Year 2022, we ask that you provide at least $1.5 billion each for both the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund and the Multilateral Telecommunications Security Fund. These Funds provide critical foundations for robust, secure, and efficient fifth-generation (5G) networks, and will be integral to the ability of the United States and its allies to adopt Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) equipment at a scale necessary to compete with the equipment vendors of our strategic rivals, including China.
These Funds, established in Section 9202 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, are consistent with your Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which calls for investments to retain our scientific and technological edge, build secure 21st century digital infrastructure (including secure 5G networks), and partner with democratic friends and allies. Investments in these Funds will also enable the development and deployment of an Open RAN approach to network standardization for nationwide 5G (and successor) wireless capabilities.
Current RAN infrastructure relies on closed, end-to-end hardware solutions that are expensive to operate and dominated by foreign companies. 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.
We look forward to working with you in a bipartisan manner on this critical national priority.