5G Action Now, other security experts urge FCC to keep national security in mind with 5G development

More than two dozen national security experts, including former congressman and House Intelligence Mike Rogers (R-MI), and former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, are urging the Federal Communications Commission to keep in mind the national security implications of the race to 5G.

The letter was addressed to FCC Chair Ajit Pai, and outlines what 5G Action Now (the organization founded by Rogers) sees happening as the U.S. and China vie to be the first to deploy 5G communication networks.

 “Right now, we’re falling behind China in this race," the letter states. " Since 2015, China has outspent the U.S. by roughly $24 billion in 5G infrastructure. As a result, at one point in 2017, China built more 5G base stations in a three- month span than the U.S. did in three years. In total, China has built about 12 times more 5G base stations than the U.S.”

 China has reportedly invested as much as $75 billion in subsidies to spread the worldwide influence of technology company Huawei and to undercut its international competitors.

“Huawei, serving as an arm of the Chinese Communist Party, now operates in more than 170 countries," the letter reads."Most recently, the United Kingdom granted Huawei access to part of its 5G infrastructure, compromising our ability to share information with them and straining our two countries’ relationship. Many more of our allies, including France and Canada, are considering the same dangerous decision.” 

The organization also outlined another issue – freeing up mid-band spectrum for 5G deployment. “China has already deployed 200 megahertz of mid-band spectrum, and is in the process of deploying another 500 megahertz," the letter said. "The U.S. has deployed no mid-band spectrum for 5G.” 

Earlier this month, Pai proposed a plan for a public C-band auction that includes $9.7 billion in acceleration payments to the incumbent satellite companies to clear the 5G spectrum as quickly as possible, the letter said.

"If executed, this plan would mean the C-band auction would occur before the end of this year, as opposed to the spectrum not being available for at least 10 years due to litigation," said the letter. "There is too much at risk to waste any more time.”

In 2019, FBI Director Christopher Wray pointed to the number of charges against Huawei and said that the company “and its senior executives repeatedly refused to respect the laws of the United States and standard international business practices.”

U.S. Attorney General William Barr wrote to Pai in November 2019 to support a prohibition on the use of Universal Service Funds for companies like Huawei and ZTE, as well as a process to remove and replace their equipment. The letter from 5G Action Now references Barr’s letter and quotes him as saying that Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted.

The letter is signed by former acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Mark Mitchell, retired Army Special Forces officer, Lt. Col., Christopher J. Kremidas-Courtney, retired Brigadier General Robert J. Felderman and others.

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