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Hickenlooper, Wicker Bill to Reduce Reliance on Chinese Telecom Equipment Passes Senate Committee

May 13, 2021

Bill would fund telecommunication research program in Boulder, create new alternatives to Chinese manufacturers

Bill passed out of Senate Commerce Committee as an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act

Washington, D.C.- Yesterday, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper’s and Roger Wicker’s bill to counter Chinese manufacturers’ dominance of the telecommunications equipment industry passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee. The Telecommunications Supply Chain Diversity Promotion Actwould require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to fund a $20 million research program at the Institute of Telecommunication Sciences in Boulder, Colorado.

The bill passed as an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act, which is expected to receive a vote on the Senate floor for final passage in the coming weeks.

“Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment comes with too great a risk of espionage,” said Hickenlooper. “Yet, other, more secure sources of this equipment are hard to obtain. This bill would support development of new technology at the Institute of Telecommunication Sciences in Colorado. We won’t sacrifice security to maintain leadership in the race to 5G.”

“Advanced communications network technologies hold the promise of increasing U.S. competitiveness on the global stage, connecting Americans in ways like never before, and creating untold economic opportunity,” said Wicker. “However, threats to the security of those networks are steadily growing. This legislation would help combat those vulnerabilities by increasing vendor diversity and promoting the use of trusted equipment around the world.”

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

Hickenlooper is the chair of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Science. Wicker is the ranking member of the Commerce Committee.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Task NTIA with developing a testbed at the Institute for Telecommunication Science in Boulder, Colorado for demonstrating the potential network architecture and applications for Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN), including a specific consideration of rural network deployment;
  • Require NTIA to work with industry, FirstNet, and other federal agencies to examine potential uses for Open RAN technology;
  • Authorize $20 million for NTIA to stand up the testbed program, and require NTIA to report to Congress with recommendations for further legislative actions to promote the adoption and deployment of Open RAN;
  • Create a $30 million grant program for the Department of Commerce, in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission, to provide US companies with financial assistance for participation in eligible standard-setting bodies for the formation of standards for Open RAN.


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