Guthrie Introduces Bill to Protect Rural Network Providers from Chinese Communist Party’s Influence
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02) introduced the Open RAN Outreach Act to strengthen the telecommunications supply chain and help protect small and rural communications providers from Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-backed companies, such as Huawei, and other bad actors.
“We need to ensure our small and rural providers are protected from the influence of Chinese Communist Party-backed Huawei and other bad actors. The Open RAN Outreach Act can help strengthen our supply chain and build on our efforts to ensure untrusted technology is kept out of American telecommunications networks,” said Guthrie.
Guthrie introduced this bipartisan bill with Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32), Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-08), and Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01).
The Open RAN Outreach Act builds upon Guthrie’s efforts to secure U.S. telecommunications networks. Guthrie’s Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which is now law, helps small and rural providers remove untrusted equipment from Huawei or other bad actors from their telecommunications networks and replace it with trusted equipment. The USA Telecommunications Act promotes competition to Chinese Communist Party-backed telecommunications companies by supporting the development of alternatives. Guthrie was an original cosponsor of this bill, and it was included in the most recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of securing domestic supply chains and telecommunications networks. Huawei and other untrusted companies with the support of government money from China have been able to offer lower costs to entice small and rural providers to use their technology. Promoting a more competitive market of trusted alternative vendors to provide 5G equipment remains an important strategic component to protect U.S. networks.
A closed or proprietary network has one vendor or manufacturer for end-to-end network equipment. Open RAN technology can help diversify communications technology by being an open network infrastructure that can have multiple components from multiple manufacturers. The Open RAN Outreach Act requires technical assistance and outreach to be made available on Open RAN technologies by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). This will give small and rural providers information and support to deploy Open RAN technologies if providers would like to implement this technology.