Allred Leads Bipartisan Bill to Protect Wireless Networks, Strengthen Technology Supply Chain Against China’s Influence
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32) introduced the Open RAN Outreach Act, a bipartisan bill to strengthen the diversity of U.S. wireless networks and protect the supply chain from reliance on untrusted technology companies. The bill directs the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to provide outreach and technical assistance to small communications network providers regarding how to use Open Radio Access Networks (Open-RAN) technologies including those produced in North Texas.
“The future of our nation, and the global economy, depends on protecting the supply chain of the vital technologies that power our wireless networks,” said Allred. “This bill directs the Administration to provide necessary technical help to smaller network providers so they can deploy newer, secure wireless networks, free from the influence of Chinese-owned companies and other untrusted vendors.”
This bipartisan bill is co-led by Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC-08), Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) and Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02).
Background on radio access networks:
A radio access network consists of cell sites and their subcomponents such as radios, hardware and software. Many carriers today use a closed or proprietary network, meaning that they need to use one vendor or manufacturer from end-to-end. This can place a substantial cost burden on smaller carriers to reduce costs, potentially by using cheaper, Chinese-owned alternatives like Huawei. There are only three major non-Chinese companies, Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia, that produce end-to-end network equipment.
An Open Radio Access Network is an open network infrastructure that would allow different components to be produced by different companies, leading to a more diverse and competitive supply chain for carriers. To ensure that smaller carriers have the tools and information they need to deploy Open RAN technology if desired, Allred’s legislation calls for technical assistance to be provided to these carriers by the Administration through NTIA.