As we patiently await 5G’s arrival to the main stage, there is certainly no shortage of hype. The 5G din has reached fever pitch, but quelling the rise of this much anticipated technology is the United States’ government. Of course, President Trump will only be satisfied with the best of the best as he places a comma between making America great again and keeping America great, but a tumultuous geo-political landscape appears to be pushing his hand toward United States infrastructure overhaul.
On February 27, the Secure and Trusted Telecommunications Networks Act unanimously passed the Senate and officially made its way to president Trump’s desk. The bill, H.R. 4998, also referred to as “rip and replace”, would ban purchase of telecom equipment from Chinese manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE, and would also include a billion dollars in funding to support smaller rural telecoms in this transition.
The bill was introduced in the House with the bipartisan support of reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Greg Walden (R-OR), the committee’s ranking member, Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Doris Matsui (D-CA). In broad strokes, the legislation’s impact will be threefold.
The Secure and Trusted telecommunications Networks Act promises to prohibit the FCC from subsidizing the acquisition or maintenance of telecommunications equipment or services from untrusted suppliers. The legislation will create a program to keep on open line of communications for telecommunications providers, to network operators large and small are up to date on potential vulnerabilities or security risks to their network. Thirdly, telecom providers with fewer than two million customers will be supported by a reimbursement program as they replace equipment from untrusted suppliers.
“In today’s interconnected world, America’s wireless future depends on having networks that are secure from malicious foreign interference. The existence of Huawei’s technology in our networks represents an immense threat to America’s national and economic security,” Pallone, Walden, Matsui, and Guthrie explained.
President Trump has put a very visible bulls eye on Huawei’s back for its alleged ties to the Chinese government, with the administration accusing the telecom equipment provider of being an “arm of China’s communist government.” The inherit security risks associated with these accusations is nothing to shake a stick at, and this movement toward banning Huawei equipment for use in U.S. 5G infrastructure started publicly in 2018 for the Trump administration. The first blow was landed in 2018, with a Trump executive order limiting American firms’ ability to sell products to the Chinese company.
Each and every business plays the cat and mouse game that is cybersecurity, walking the tightrope of performance versus peace of mind. The unfortunate reality of life is not all intentions are good, so when faced with the options of safe or sorry, especially from a national security standpoint, the selection is somewhat obvious. The race to ubiquitous 5G is much more of a marathon than a sprint however there is no shortage of drama.
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