Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) led a bipartisan group of Senators in urging President Joe Biden with a 5G security recommendation: The administration should include at least $3 billion to help fund the development of software-based alternatives to the 5G hardware sold by China’s Huawei and ZTE.
Specifically, lawmakers 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. They say Open RAN technology would allow additional vendors to enter the 5G market and compete with manufacturers like Huawei, which is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government. Continue Reading
“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,” the Senators wrote in a letter this week. “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,” added lawmakers.
They told the president that, 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,” they explained. They said these changes would be especially vital to rural America. “Providing resources for these Funds in your budget request presents an opportunity to realize this vision.”
In addition to Warner, 14 other bipartisan members of the Senate Intelligence Committee signed the letter. They include: Vice Chairman 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).