AT&T, Verizon Back U.S. Tech Funding Bill

Two of the Big Three wireless carriers have weighed in in support of the bipartisan S. 3189, the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act. 

That letter to the leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee came in advance of a hearing Wednesday (March 4) on 5G supply chain security.  

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The bill, sponsored by Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Mark Warner (D-Va.), ranking member of the Committee, would provide $1 billion to fund U.S. alternatives to the Chinese telecom tech (Huawei and ZTE most notably) that are major players in U.S. networks, though various parts of the government are working on changing that.

The bill emphasizes virtualization of those networks, which would make them more reliant on the software that the U.S. dominates, rather than the hardware where China has a big edge. 

"Promoting leadership and innovation by telecommunications and networking suppliers in the U.S. and Europe is a critical part of the effort to maintain a secure and trusted global 5G supply chain," AT&T and Verizon wrote in a joint letter to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, and ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). "To that end, we support the bipartisan Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunication Act, introduced by Senators Warner and Burr, which would foster U.S. innovation in the race for 5G, help shape global 5G network deployments, and drive the adoption of more secure network infrastructure. In particular, the bill recognizes that greater virtualization, network disaggregation, and a transition to more open network architectures can catalyze greater competition with Huawei globally – while playing to longstanding U.S. strengths in software management, vendor diversity, and network virtualization." 

Supply chain security will be getting a lot of attention in the Senate Wednesday. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is holding a hearing in the afternoon on China's influence on tech. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.