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Senate Commerce Approves Two Communications Bills

U.S. Capitol
(Image credit: Capitol)

The Ensuring Network Security Act and the Beat China by Harnessing Important, National Airwaves (CHINA) for 5G Act of 2020 were both reported favorably out of the Senate Commerce Committee by voice vote, which essentially means unanimously.

They now move to the Senate for a full vote, and were among a host of bills getting quick resolution and the executive session Wednesday (Nov. 18). The markup was brief, but Committee chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) took the time to point out to the streaming audience that it was just the tip of an iceberg of staff work, including up to late the night before, to get it to the point where the bills could be voted quickly and with bipartisan agreement.

S. 4472, Ensuring Network Security Act expands the number of broadband suppliers eligible for $1 billion in funding to rip and replace suspect tech, like that of Chinese telecoms Huawei and ZTE by upping the threshold for companies eligible for the money from those with 2 million or fewer subs to those with 10 million or fewer, and by expanding eligibility to eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs).

S. 4803, the Beat China by Harnessing Important, National Airwaves (CHINA) for 5G Act of 2020, directs the clearing of government users from the 3.5 GHz band so the FCC can auction it for 5G.

The White House and Department of Defense officials last August announced that they had identified 100 MHz of midband spectrum (between 3450 and 3550 GHz) currently used by DOD for key radar applications, that could be freed up quickly for sharing with commercial 5G without sacrificing national security or military uses, specifically critical radar for air defense, missile and gun control, battlefield weapon locations, air traffic control, and more.