National Security

Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks

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A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Wednesday to help U.S. firms remove Chinese telecom equipment from companies like Huawei if it’s deemed a national security threat.

The legislation would require fifth generation, or 5G, wireless networks be free of equipment or services provided by Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE. It also would establish a “supply chain trust fund” program to help U.S. firms remove Huawei equipment from their networks.

The measure would require the establishment of an “interagency program,” led by the Department of Homeland Security, to share information with communications companies on risks and vulnerabilities of networks.

{mosads}The bill was introduced by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), with Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) as co-sponsors.

Wicker, whose committee has examined 5G security in the recent months, said in a statement that “5G networks need to be robust and secure, and not rely on equipment or services that pose a national security risk.”

Warner cited national security threats from Huawei and ZTE in highlighting the importance of the bill.

“While we’ve made enormous progress in educating the private sector of the dangers these vendors pose, we haven’t put in place policies to help resource-strapped rural carriers address and eliminate those risks,” he said in a statement. “This bill ensures that on a going-forward basis we don’t make the same mistakes in allowing companies subject to extra-judicial directions of a foreign adversary to infiltrate our nation’s communications networks.”

The bill is the latest piece of legislation introduced to secure 5G networks from potential Chinese threats, and comes a day after a bipartisan group of House members introduced a related measure that calls for the creation of a “national strategy” to protect 5G wireless networks from security threats. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) is the bill’s the main sponsor.

President Trump last week signed an executive order banning U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment from any company deemed a national security risk. 

The Commerce Department also formally added Huawei to its list of blacklisted trade groups last week, though it issued a temporary license on Monday allowing U.S. companies to have “limited engagements” with Huawei for 90 days.

Tags 5G Abigail Spanberger China Dan Sullivan Donald Trump Ed Markey Huawei Mark Warner Roger Wicker telecom Tom Cotton ZTE
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