The U.S. House passed three telecommunications-related bills this week, including The Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act of 2020. The bill, which passed unanimously, will make $750 million of grants available through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on a consistent basis to support Open RAN 5G network deployment and use throughout the United States. These grants would begin to be issued 18 months after the USA Telecommunications Act is enacted, the bill said.
According to the bill, the USA Telecommunications Act will make Open RAN 5G network deployment possible by, “Promoting the use of technology, including software, hardware, and microprocessing technology, that will enhance competitiveness in the supply chains of Open RAN 5G Networks.” Other actions in the bill to help deploy these networks include, “Accelerating the deployment of open network equipment, promoting the use of open network equipment and establishing objective criteria that can be used to determine if equipment meets the definition of open network equipment.”
Including security features that enhance open network equipment’s integrity and availability is another measure included in the USA Telecommunications Act. As is, “promoting the application of network function virtualization to facilitate the deployment of open RAN 5G networks and a more diverse vendor market.”
The bill will still have to make through the U.S. Senate, but this initial step is good news for network suppliers and companies that develop and market O-RAN equipment such as JMA. The grants that could become available will help these companies develop open RAN technology, which China is currently producing and selling at a lower cost.
House passes two additional telecom bills
The U.S. House also passed the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act, which keeps users from opting out of emergency missile alerts that would be sent to their mobile phones. The READI Act will also direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update its emergency alert systems and to look into if emergency alerts could be expanded to online platforms such as streaming services.
Meanwhile, the House also passed the Spectrum IT Modernization Act, which would request the U.S. Department of Commerce’s government spectrum unit to update its digital processes for how accessible parts of the airwaves are managed.
“From keeping Americans better informed during emergencies to promoting 5G coordination, competitiveness and security, these three bills will create a better, safer communications network for us all,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) said in a joint statement. “At its core, our telecommunications infrastructure exists to serve the public interest and connect our nation, and we are proud of the bipartisan work that went into advancing that goal with these three bills. We thank all our colleagues for working with us to get such important legislation passed today.”
Joe Dyton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.