Washington, DC – In today’s interconnected world, technology and the networks that underpin it are more than just useful resources – they’re a lifeline. The COVID-19 pandemic has made our reliance on technology even more apparent as Americans work, learn, and receive health care from their homes. It is no overstatement to say our future will be defined by leadership in technology, especially when it comes to adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning. From our communications gear to our vehicles to our electric grid, the safety and security of the United States will depend on continued U.S. global leadership in both the development and deployment of emerging technologies.
While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s efforts to deliberately mislead the world about the coronavirus, which originated in their country, have impacted the lives of every American and the lives of our partners across the globe, this action is only the latest by the CCP as they stop at nothing to be the world’s top economy by 2049, which marks their 100th anniversary of communist rule. In fact, our intelligence community has warned for over a decade of the threat posed by China infiltrating our networks through their telecom giant Huawei, which has provided communications gear to American providers at a low cost.
This week, the Trump administration continued their prudent, hardline stance against Huawei and their affiliates in the CCP by restricting Huawei’s access to U.S. technology and software. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added 38 more Huawei affiliates to its Entity List, which will prevent Huawei from undermining its blacklisted status. This recent action follows BIS’s May 2020 effort to target Huawei’s ability to obtain U.S. semiconductors. Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission recently designated Chinese-owned Huawei and ZTE as National Security Threats.
Congress has also taken bipartisan action against Huawei and other suspect companies to secure our networks and incentivize U.S. development and deployment of telecommunications gear to decrease reliance on untrusted, foreign equipment. In March, President Trump signed two bills into law that aim to secure our networks from bad actors. The bipartisan Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act was signed into law to help secure America’s communications supply chain by incentivizing smaller, rural providers to rip and replace suspect equipment from companies like Huawei and ZTE. Additionally, the bipartisan Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020 requires the President to develop the “Secure Next Generation Mobile Communications Strategy” and an implementation plan to ensure our networks are secure as we advance 5G and other network technologies.
The Energy and Commerce Committee also recently passed the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act of 2020, led by bipartisan committee leaders to promote and speed up the deployment and use of secure and U.S. based 5G software and equipment. Growing our domestic wireless supply chain is crucial as we continue to stop supply chain threats, secure our networks, and ensure U.S. technological leadership.
Other countries have taken notice of U.S. efforts and are following suit. The United Kingdom and France both have recently announced plans to phase out and ban Huawei from their networks. As Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY) said, “we must continue to work with our allies who share our values and interests to demonstrate to our adversaries that there will be consequences for bad behaviors.”
The United States has taken unprecedented steps to lead in wireless and emerging technologies. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been executing his 5G FAST Plan to free up spectrum for 5G, and the Trump administration recently announced an additional 100 MHz of mid-band spectrum can be used for domestic 5G networks. This comes on top of the spectrum that is currently being – or slated to be – auctioned. Meanwhile, Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans recently unveiled a 26-bill package aimed at eliminating barriers for broadband and 5G deployment to help connect Americans in all corners of our country.
The world is watching, and we must not hold back in our efforts to secure networks and keep both Americans and our friends abroad safe. If we don’t write the rules of the road when it comes to technologies, China will. And we know that they won’t be written with freedom-loving countries in mind.