Senators Move to Subsidize Huawei Competitors for 5G

Six Senators crossing party lines introduced a bill Wednesday that would set aside $1.25 billion over the next decade for investment in research and development for 5G wireless networking and other future wireless technologies, as well as the promotion of technologies to foreign countries.

The six Senators include Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

The Senators explained in a press release that they deem the investment necessary because Huawei is heavily subsidized by the government of China, and “is poised to become the leading commercial provider of 5G, with far-reaching effects for U.S. economic and national security.” These security risks are derived from the company’s close connection with the Communist Party of China, leading to ” unacceptable risks to our national security and to the integrity of information networks globally.”

The funds would be segmented into two parts. The first $750 million would be distributed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), based on criteria provided by the Federal Communications Commission. The funds are earmarked for ” innovative, ‘leap-ahead’ technologies in the U.S. mobile broadband market ” A further $500 million would be designated for Multilateral Telecommunications Security Fund, designed to ” accelerate the adoption of trusted and secure equipment globally and to encourage multilateral participation.”

Representatives from both AT&T and Verizon’s government relations offices applauded the new bill.

“The security of America’s communications networks is an essential component in ensuring our nation’s economic leadership, now and in the future.  It requires all of us — the industry, the government and those who live and work here – collaborating on efforts to build and maintain smart and secure communications,” said Robert Fisher, Verizon’s SVP Federal Government Relations.

“We look forward to working with Congress through the legislative process to see this measure enacted,” added Tim McKone, AT&T’s Executive Vice President of Federal Relations.

The United States government has fought against the adoption of Chinese-made 5G technology both in the United States and abroad, due in part to security concerns. Some have characterized the geopolitical tension as a new form of cold war.