Broadband Mapping, 5G Security Bills On Their Way to Senate

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The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved two 5G security bills and a broadband mapping measure by voice vote. All are subject to approval by the full Senate.

The Secure 5G and Beyond Act, S. 893, from Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK), would require the administration to develop a strategy to ensure the security of NextGen mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure in the U.S.

 If passed, the U.S. would also need to help allies and partners maximize such security for infrastructure and software for 5G.

The committee also passed S. 1625, United States 5G Leadership Act. Focused on network and supply chain security, the measure would slate $700 million for rural telecom companies in the U.S. to eliminate their low-priced gear from Chinese telecom Huawei. Bill sponsors are: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Edward Markey (D-MA.), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Dan Sullivan (R-AK).

The panel compromised on two competing broadband mapping proposals. The committee voted on an updated measure, “Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act.” Introduced in June by Committee Chair Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), S. 1822 will create a new national broadband map. The updated measure reflects negotiation involving a competing, similar bill led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV); Capito now co-sponsors Wicker’s legislation.

Telecom associations representing rural carriers were quick to praise the action. USTelecom President/ CEO Jonathan Spalter said nearly four months after launching the association’s mapping pilot program, the committee, “passed a plan mandating the adoption of the new USTelecom methodology to locate broadband serviceable locations. This is important progress. Senators on both sides of the aisle know that fixing our maps goes hand in hand with ensuring federal resources reach communities in their states without access to broadband as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

“Currently, maps show services as available where consumers cannot get them at all, and in other places they show speeds available at levels that cannot consistently be delivered,” said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. “It’s a serious concern when ‘false positives’ can result in a denial of funding, while ‘false negatives’ can result in a waste of funding on duplicative networks. By improving these maps, we ensure that public resources and private investment efforts can be better focused on the mission of closing the digital divide.”

CTIA SVP Government Affairs Kelly Cole stated: “Timely, relevant and accurate broadband mapping is essential to providing Americans across the country with mobile broadband.”  Comments? Email Us.

July 25, 2019

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