CNBC is reporting that a bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation to spend more than $1 billion to fund 5G alternatives to Huawei.
Huawei is currently the number one provider of 5G equipment around the world. In spite of that, the company has faced ongoing criticism and accusations that it represents a risk to other countries’ national security because of its close ties to Beijing. All Chinese corporations are required to cooperate with the Chinese government and intelligence agencies, but Huawei is believed to have closer ties to Beijing than most.
Even so, carriers have warned their governments that going with non-Huawei alternatives could add years of work and billions in cost. Huawei is also seen as having some of the best 5G technology on the market. This puts carriers in the unenviable position of choosing between inferior technology or inferior security.
Now a group of bipartisan senators wants to address that, with legislation that would allocate over $1 billion to leveling the playing field. According to CNBC, “Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr, R-N.C., is a co-sponsor of the bill, alongside Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and John Cornyn of Texas. Democratic Senators Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado are also co-sponsors alongside Warner.”
The bill would authorize the Federal Communications Commission to “direct at least $750 million or up to 5% of annual auction proceeds from new auctioned spectrum licenses to create an open-architecture model (O-RAN) research and development fund.”
In addition, “another $500 million would become a Multilateral Telecommunications Security Fund, which would be available for 10 years ‘to accelerate the adoption of trusted and secure equipment globally and to encourage multilateral participation.’”
If the bill gets passed into law, it could finally help create viable alternatives to Huawei in the U.S. market.