Senate bill would boost Huawei alternatives

A group of bipartisan senators on Tuesday introduced legislation to help create alternatives to Chinese firm Huawei in the rollout of 5G wireless technology, amid administration pressure on the telecommunications company.

TheĀ Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act, sponsored by lawmakers including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-Va.), would promote research into new U.S. 5G alternatives by requiring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to set aside $750 million for a research and development fund.

The legislation would also create a $500 million “Multilateral Telecommunications Security Fund” at the Treasury Department, with the funds available for ten years to help encourage the adoption of “trusted and secure equipment” worldwide.

“The widespread adoption of 5G has the potential to transform the way we do business, but also carries significant national security risks,” Burr said in a statement on Tuesday. “Those risks could prove disastrous if Huawei, a company that operates at the behest of the Chinese government, military, and intelligence services, is allowed to take over the 5G market unchecked.”

Warner, who co-founded wireless group Nextel prior to serving in the Senate, said in a separate statement that “every month that the U.S. does nothing, Huawei stands poised to become the cheapest, fastest, most ubiquitous global provider of 5G, while U.S. and Western companies and workers lose out on market share and jobs.”