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Pallone Opening Remarks at Hearing on Securing American Network Technology

Apr 21, 2021
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following opening remarks today at a Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing titled, “Leading the Wireless Future: Securing American Network Technology:”

If the United States doesn't lead the wireless future, rival nations are posed to lead it for us and dominate the 5G marketplace in a way that may undermine our national security and economic prosperity.  

China has built the world's largest 5G network and suspect communications provider Huawei currently leads the global market share for 5G base stations.

According to reports, China has more 5G subscribers than the United States, it has more widespread 5G coverage, and its connections are, on average, faster than ours.

This is concerning because history tells us that early adopters and developers define the marketplace, drive innovation, and reap the economic benefits of that leadership.

As we saw with 4G, the global technological leaders in a given field can define that technology and how it is used. With 4G, we saw the benefits of that in the booming app economy that was created.

We all know the positives and the negatives created by the tech boom. But in this nation, we have the ability and structures to publicly debate those issues, and when government gets involved it’s in full view of the American people.

If the same tech companies were founded and grew under a more authoritarian regime, the influence of government would be less apparent and potentially much more dangerous.

The Chinese government’s involvement in Huawei and ZTE has raised security concerns with their equipment. We also have seen how China places restrictions that undermine privacy, security, and intellectual property interests on American companies entering the Chinese market.

Based on past experience, the Chinese government cannot be trusted to set the standards that govern our wireless future. Instead, we must help our own nation and like-minded democracies once again lead in technological innovation and preserve a secure and free marketplace.

To this end, we have already made progress. We funded the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act to the tune of $1.9 billion to replace all suspect equipment in the United States. We also enacted the Secure 5G and Beyond Act to require the Executive Branch to formulate a whole of government strategy to protect our 5G networks.

I also am encouraged by President Biden’s focus on expanding U.S. leadership. The Administration’s support of Doreen Bogdan-Martin to lead the International Telecommunications Union demonstrates a commitment to a more inclusive and sustainable global digital landscape. And just last week, President Biden welcomed Japanese Prime Minster Suga to the White House where they agreed to work jointly on the rapid development of 5G technologies.

And in that vein, we enacted the USA Telecom Act last year to help fund the promotion of Open RAN networks that can be used to finally bring the United States and more of our allies into the business of manufacturing network equipment. Congress must nevertheless fund this legislation so that we can promote and deploy this critical technology to create American jobs here at home, building the networks of the future.

We need to make sure that all providers, including small providers and communities, have the resources and technical assistance to leverage this technology.  

But we cannot stop there; we need to leverage our federal agencies to review the security issues presented by consumer equipment, especially equipment produced in suspect countries. 

We must also quickly address the Trump Administration’s failure to appropriately coordinate across our government to make our airwaves available for these new technologies. It’s important we work together to put our airwaves to the best possible use while addressing legitimate safety concerns.