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House approves legislation providing $750 million to boost US 5G efforts

House approves legislation providing $750 million to boost US 5G efforts
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The House on Tuesday unanimously passed bipartisan legislation appropriating $750 million towards building out U.S. fifth generation, or 5G, network technology as a way to combat potential threats from foreign-made equipment. 

The USA Telecommunications Act, introduced in both the House and Senate earlier this year, would set aside the funds as part of a grant program overseen by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The funds would be used to support the deployment and use of 5G networks in the United States. 

The bill would establish an advisory committee that would include the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal agencies as well as representatives from the public and private sectors to advise on the grant funding. A report on the current state of the 5G supply chain would also be required to be submitted within 180 days of the bill becoming law.  

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The bill's primary sponsors in the House are Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHillicon Valley: Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns | Snapchat launches in-app video platform 'Spotlight' | Uber, Lyft awarded federal transportation contract Lawmakers urge FCC to assist in effort to rip out, replace suspect network equipment OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Ore.), and Reps. Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg and Dorsey return for another hearing | House passes 5G funding bill | Twitter introduces 'fleets' House approves legislation providing 0 million to boost US 5G efforts Ensuring more Americans have access to 5G technology MORE (R-Ky.) and Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiCyberattack forces shutdown of Baltimore County schools for the day Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg and Dorsey return for another hearing | House passes 5G funding bill | Twitter introduces 'fleets' House approves legislation providing 0 million to boost US 5G efforts MORE (D-Calif.). 

Acting Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Rubio signals opposition to Biden Cabinet picks Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (R-Fla.), vice chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHarris shares Thanksgiving recipe: 'During difficult times I have always turned to cooking' Biden leans on foreign policy establishment to build team Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin MORE (D-Va.), and multiple other bipartisan senators introduced a Senate version in January. 

Pallone said on the House floor Tuesday that the bill was essential for “spurring a domestic market for network equipment, and that is something we desperately need.”

He pointed to concerns over Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE and the need to compete domestically against these groups, which the Trump administration has taken extensive steps against due to national security concerns. 

“We must support alternatives to companies like Huawei and ZTE,” Pallone said. “Today most network equipment is produced by a handful of companies that provide a soup to nut solution, locking our networks into one single vendor at a time. That makes it hard for new competitors to break into the market, and currently there are no American vendors for the network equipment that fuels our wireless economy.”

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Walden also praised the passage of the bill, saying on the House floor that it would “help put the United States at the helm of network security, ensuring that communications providers have a secure, diverse, and competitive marketplace of trusted equipment suppliers for their next generation networks.”

“Congress needs to act, we need to do all we can to ensure the United States supports a capitalism of competition between trusted vendors, and today’s bill does just that,” Walden added. 

A previous bill sponsored by the same four bipartisan House sponsors that was signed into law by President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE in March. The legislation bans U.S. companies from using federal funds to buy Huawei equipment, and also provided $1 billion to help small rural telecom groups rip out Huawei equipment and replace it.