US investment in 5G needs boost to combat China, suggests bill

A bipartisan bill is calling for greater US investment in 5G technology in order to combat China’s current dominance of the technology.

Specifically, it calls for US companies to have a greater say in setting standards for the 5G network, though would not allocate additional funding to facilitate this…

Reuters reports that the bill asks for existing funding to be refocused.

The bill, from U.S. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, presses the secretary of state to boost the “representation and leadership” of the United States at international telecommunication organizations that create standards for the 5G cellular network. That will be necessary to combat attempts by China to gain influence in those groups, the legislation says.

The bill does not ask for additional funding but requests the State Department use its existing appropriations to fund the effort. The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas.

“China’s majority control of the world’s 5G networks, interconnected devices, and cloud storage is a risk we cannot accept,” McCaul said in a statement to Reuters. “We have to show up and compete with them.”

Chinese firms currently make up the majority of 5G infrastructure, with Huawei particularly dominant in the market. This has raised security concerns, with Huawei the subject of a partial trade ban by the US following claims that hidden backdoors were found in the company’s products. Although Trump claimed the ban had been lifted, the US Commerce Department stated that this is not the case. The outcome of this may well influence US investment in 5G by tech companies as well as the government.

A Department of Defense report in April said that the use of Chinese technology in overseas networks would create security risks for the US.

We’re expecting Apple to launch 5G iPhones next year, using a mix of Qualcomm and Samsung chips. This follows the related events of Intel’s exit from the market and Apple’s settlement with Qualcomm.

Although some 5G services have launched in the US, UK, and elsewhere, coverage is currently extremely limited, and it’s not expected that widespread service will be available until some point next year, making Apple’s entry a timely one.

Apple is also working on its own 5G radio chip, but that is expected to be years in development.

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