Bipartisan Group Calls for Inclusion of Open RAN Technology to Replace Vulnerable Network Equipment

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WASHINGTON, D.C., September 24, 2020 | George Hatamiya (916-201-5412) | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, urging him to allow small telecommunications providers to use Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act reimbursement funds to purchase secure, open, and interoperable radio access network (RAN) technology. 

Congress provided funding to support small, rural telecommunications providers to rip out and replace certain Chinese-made equipment that presents significant national security concerns and risks to Americans’ privacy. As the FCC determines which equipment will be eligible for reimbursement, Open RAN technology will allow additional trusted manufacturers to enter the market and compete while enabling more flexible, efficient, secure, and resilient mobile communication.

The letter builds on the progress of Congresswoman Matsui’s Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act of 2020, which would promote and accelerate the deployment of these 5G networks.

Full text of the letter is below and HERE.

Dear Chairman Pai:

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalizes its rule to implement the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act (the Act), we write to urge it to explicitly allow impacted carriers to use reimbursement funds to purchase Open RAN technology. With the Commission’s recent finding that replacing certain Chinese-made and other untrusted equipment will cost at least $1.84 billion, this moment presents a critical opportunity to secure and widen our mobile network supply chain by providing as many options as possible for impacted carriers.

Congress passed the Act to support small, rural telecommunications providers to rip out and replace certain Chinese-made and other untrusted equipment that presents significant national security concerns and risks to Americans’ privacy. While we fully expect that equipment from trusted traditional RAN vendors will be reimbursable, as impacted carriers work to implement the requirements of the Act, Open RAN solutions that are secure, interoperable, interchangeable, and easily upgradeable to new applications and uses should also be made eligible for reimbursement. The FCC plays an important role in providing impacted carriers with the certainty they need to make investments for the future. Without clear guidance from the FCC, smaller carriers will be unable to move forward with their rip and replace plans in a timely manner.

Accordingly, we urge the FCC to adopt technology neutral rules that explicitly allow impacted carriers to use funds to purchase Open RAN technology for their networks. Thank you for your consideration. 

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