Senators Richard Burr from North Carolina and Mark Warner from Virginia have introduced a bill to push back against China’s 5G dominance by offering to subsidize U.S. companies that are working on the technology, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The bill, called the Utilizing Strategic Allied Telecommunications Act, would give at least $750 million to companies that work on the fifth-generation wireless technology, and would offer $500 million to companies that use “trusted and secure” equipment worldwide.
The law doesn’t name specific companies, but its purpose is to get the U.S. on par with Chinese equipment makers. Huawei recently became the top global supplier of mobile radio equipment, and the U.S. claims the company has not being reliable in terms of security due to its close relationship with the Chinese government. Huawei has also been accused of leveraging low-cost loans and other support that American companies don’t receive.
Andy Purdy, Huawei’s chief security officer in the U.S., said he appreciates the 5G push, but that he has questions about how the government will determine which companies are “trusted and secure.”
“This part of it is misguided and, I think, unnecessary,” he said.
Security officials in the U.S. have watched as Huawei has grown more and more popular around the world, and they are concerned about its influence. 5G capability allows companies to control more of their networks remotely, but that also opens them up to hacking and other cybersecurity risks.
The law would tap at least $750 million from auctions of wireless-spectrum licenses over the next five years, held by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). There are already two auctions scheduled for this year, which would raise tens of billions of dollars from Verizon and AT&T. The bill proposes the collection of $750 million, or 5 percent of all proceeds.