Senate Bill Would Prohibit 5G Net Nationalization

A bipartisan trio of prominent senators including the chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee have introduced legislation, the Secure 5G and Beyond Act, that would both protect 5G networks and prevent the government from trying to nationalize 5G nets, or 6G or 7G for that matter.

The Trump Administration has reportedly kicked around the idea of nationalizing at least part of a 5G network as a cybersecurity strategy, but got plenty of pushback and that appears to be put on the back burner.

Still on the front burner, however, is the issue of Chinese telecom tech--Huawei and ZTE in particular--in 5G networks, and the bill would address that issue.

Co-sponsoring the bills are Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Me.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

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“It’s imperative we not only understand the revolutionary value of next-gen communications, but also the security measures required to ensure the deployment of safe and secure 5G networks,” said Burr. “It’s imperative that we have a coherent strategy, led by the President, to harness the advantages of 5G in a way that understands – and addresses – the risks," said Warner.

Specifically, the new bill:

1. "Requires the President to create an inter-agency strategy to secure 5th generation and future generation technology and infrastructure in the United States and with our strategic allies.

2. "Designates NTIA as the Executive Agent to coordinate implementation of the strategy in coordination with: the Chairman of the FCC, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Defense.

3. "Ensures that the strategy does not include a recommendation to nationalize 5th generation deployment or future generations of mobile telecommunications infrastructure in the United States."

Warner and Rubio teamed up earlier this month to ask Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to issue an unclassified and comprehensive report on China's participation in 5G wireless broadband international standards-setting bodies (ISSBs).

Related: Senate Vets 5G Security

They said they called for the report's publication based on anecdotal evidence that the Chinese government was attempting to politically influence the process.

“We thank Senators Cornyn, Burr, Warner and Feinstein for introducing the Secure 5G and Beyond Act," said Kelly Cole, senior VP of government affairs for CTIA, the wireless association. "This bipartisan legislation both confirms that American free-market principles and competition are the best way to enhance our nation’s economy and shows our allies our commitment to protecting our wireless networks and customers.”

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.