Rep. Walden: Hill Working on 5G Global Supply Chain Solution

House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden signaled last week that his committee is working on a way to mitigate global supply chain risks without breaking key links in that chain.

That came at a White House summit on 5G, the deployment of which is a Trump Administration and FCC priority, as well as for Congress, Walden made clear.

"I’m pleased to report the Energy and Commerce Committee is working toward a bipartisan, long-term solution on supply chain risks," he told the White House audience Friday (Sept. 29).

Chinese telecoms have been much in the news, with Congress and the Trump Administration at odds over just how to address the issue of keeping tabs on companies with key tech but links to the Chinese government, and doing so without preventing U.S. access to key components of the next-gen wireless broadband delivery system that will be crucial to an internet of things world.

Related: ZTE, Huawei Excluded from Government Contracts

One point of contention has been the Trump Administration's ban, then reversal of that ban, on U.S. imports to Chinese telecom ZTE (President Trump instructed the Commerce Department to strike a deal that lifted the ZTE ban after the Chinese president reached out to him over the resulting Chinese job losses).

Back in April, the Commerce Department had rescinded the export privileges of U.S. companies sending tech to ZTE saying it had violated the terms of its settlement agreement with the U.S. over illegally shipping telecom equipment to Iran and North Korea.

The White House pointed to the conditions it put on lifting the ban and the fine it levied against the company.

Related: Manufacturers Push Back on ZTE Aid

Walden argues that the U.S. needs to think globally and holistically. "It’s critical we continue to focus on mitigating risks to the global supply chain of communications equipment and services, he said, adding: "There have been alarm bells at all levels of government about potential risks to the supply chain. But some of the proposed solutions can be just as alarming."

"There are some who think we can simply ban vendors from American markets. But the marketplace for hardware and software is global. Without a forward-looking strategy, it will be increasingly difficult for our domestic communications providers to obtain their equipment from trusted vendors," he said.

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.