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Supporting the Development and Deployment of a Secure 5G Ecosystem through Open and Interoperable Networks

On February 25, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will hold an industry listening session to gather stakeholder feedback and perspectives on various aspects of the National Strategy to Secure 5G (“National Strategy”) and Implementation Plan, including input into principles for fostering global 5G vendor diversity and open, interoperable architectures.

The National Strategy and Implementation Plan were required by the Secure 5G and Beyond Act, passed into law March 25, 2020. ITI and our member companies appreciate the effort that went into developing a whole-of-government approach to 5G as outlined in the Strategy and Implementation Plan. In order to fully reap the transformative benefits that 5G will bring, we encourage the Biden Administration to similarly consider how it can implement the National Strategy and facilitate a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to 5G. A strategic approach is essential for the rapid deployment of secure 5G in the United States and globally.

The National Strategy lays out four areas, or Lines of Effort, to facilitate U.S. leadership in the development and deployment of the next generation of network technology, also known as 5G. Line of Effort 4 is focused on promoting the responsible development and deployment of 5G globally, with one activity focused specifically on developing policies and strategies for global market competitiveness and diversity.

We recognize the importance of this, especially as the market for telecommunications equipment has undergone a consolidation over the last few decades. As the United States seeks to build out secure 5G networks, it is important to consider new and innovative technology solutions as a way to address this and additional challenges that have been identified in the National Strategy.

One way to address this is via open and interoperable networks. In ITI’s 5G Policy Principles and our recently released U.S. Competitiveness Agenda Policy Memo for the Biden-Harris Administration, we emphasize the need for policymakers to use funding to support research and development related to 5G networks and use cases, which should include open and interoperable solutions. Networks developed using voluntary, open standards, or standards that are internationally available for adoption, implementation, and updates, have a myriad of benefits. Open standards help to maximize interoperability across various layers of the network, allowing hardware, software, and services to work with each other. Using open standards also means networks can be built more easily with multiple vendors, which in turn helps to foster competition. With increased competition, companies are incentivized to innovate and develop the best technology solutions.

We encourage the Biden Administration to allocate additional R&D funding to exploring open and interoperable networks, as well as associated 5G use cases. Investments in 5G infrastructure and next generation applications are absolutely imperative in fueling a cycle of investment and innovation. As more consumers and businesses harness 5G, application developers are incentivized to create innovative new offerings. From there, these new applications and use cases drive demand for 5G-enabled devices and connections, thereby encouraging further investment in 5G infrastructure. Examples of R&D and pilot projects that could harness 5G built on open and interoperable infrastructure include innovations in energy monitoring on the power grid and smart network monitoring in commercial facilities that require a high degree of government regulation and security.

Although we support the efforts set forth in the National Strategy, we have also seen some concerning proposals related to maintaining U.S. leadership in 5G, including buying controlling stakes in certain companies and urging the federal government to take an inappropriate role in private sector-led international standards development organizations. In response to this, we want to stress that the best way to maximize the benefits of new technologies is to promote a competitive marketplace and let market forces work. It is important that the Biden Administration support a technology-neutral environment that promotes innovation, allowing the private sector to lead and the market to determine the “winners.”

Public Policy Tags: Broadband, Communications, & Spectrum