A bipartisan group of senators released a bill on Tuesday designed to give Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei more competition in the 5G device market by investing more than $ 1 billion in 5G-related research and development. Although the funds could be a blessing for smaller companies, they are in any case poor compared to the expenditure in the telecommunications and mobile communications sector for R&D.
Huawei is not mentioned by name in the bill, but the co-sponsors of the bill made it clear that Huawei was in their thoughts. The US government has long feared that the company could incorporate backdoors for the Chinese government in its products. Pressure from the U.S. government has prevented major airlines from using Huawei devices on U.S. networks, and the Federal Communications Commission has effectively prohibited smaller airlines from using the company's devices. However, Huawei remains the world's largest provider of telecommunications equipment, ahead of Ericsson in Sweden and Nokia in Finland.
The bill highlights ongoing concerns that Chinese companies will dominate the 5G infrastructure device market, so carriers in the US and elsewhere have few other options.
"Every month when the United States does nothing, Huawei is ready to become the cheapest, fastest, and most ubiquitous global 5G provider as U.S. and Western companies and workers lose market share and jobs," said Senator Mark Warner ( D-Virginia), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in an announcement. Other Senate co-sponsors are Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) of the United States, who would rent wireless capacity to private carriers. According to the proposal, the government would buy devices from companies in the United States or from other trusted providers to ensure that non-Chinese telecommunications devices remain competitive in the market. The proposal was received by critics from both political parties, and the Trump administration said it was never taken seriously. However, the White House prevented Singapore-based chipmaker Broadcom from acquiring Qualcomm, a US chipmaker that develops radio modems for 5G phones and other devices, and expressed concerns that the acquisition would affect Qualcomm, a San Diego-based company would make it less globally competitive.
] Tuesday's bill addresses these concerns, but stops creating a state network. Instead, it is proposed to provide at least $ 750 million in grants to support research and development in 5G technology. It would also provide $ 500 million that the Secretary of State could spend on "supporting the development and deployment of secure and trusted telecommunications technologies" around the world. FCC auctions would fund the rights to use parts of the radio spectrum.
Nevertheless, the expenses do not match the research and development efforts of other companies. According to Bloomberg, Huawei invested $ 15.3 billion in research and development in 2018. The U.S. network supplier Cisco spent $ 6.37 billion this year, Qualcomm $ 5.48 billion, Nokia $ 5.46 billion and Ericsson $ 4.48 billion. Meanwhile, researchers at New York University are already working on technologies that could support sixth generation networks.
Even compared to existing government spending on broadband networks such as the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which is earmarked for $ 20.4, these billions pale over 10 years.
5G networks are already rolling in the United States and around the world, particularly in South Korea and China. The T-Mobile network is already available to the majority of the US population, although it is known that it is only about 20 percent faster than the 4G network.
Almost everyone across the US political spectrum agrees that the FCC must provide more bandwidth for carriers to use with 5G networks. The so-called "mid-band", which is already used by South Korea and China to set up their networks, is particularly important because it makes it easier to supply large parts of the country with 5G signals.
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