House Passes 3 Bipartisan Telecom Bills
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 | Comments

Three bipartisan telecommunications-related bills passed the House of Representatives this week. Similar bills await action in the Senate.

The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act (HR 4998) aims to protect America’s communications networks’ supply chain, and follows an executive order issued by the White House in May designed to prohibit Huawei and other equipment from existing within America’s telecommunications networks.

“Securing our networks from malicious foreign interference is critical to America’s wireless future,” said a statement from House Republican lawmakers. “Companies like Huawei and its affiliates pose a significant threat to America’s commercial and security interests because a lot of communications providers rely heavily on their equipment. This bipartisan legislation will protect our nation’s communications networks from foreign adversaries, and help small and rural providers remove and replace suspect network equipment. We look forward to swift action in the Senate, so we can send this bill to the president’s desk and protect our national security.”

The legislation would prohibit the use of federal funds, administered by the FCC, to purchase communications equipment or services from any company that poses a national security risk to American communications networks. The bill would also require the FCC to establish the Secure and Trusted Communications Reimbursement Program to assist small communications providers with the costs of removing prohibited equipment or services from their networks and replacing the prohibited equipment with more secure communications equipment or services. In addition, the legislation would help the federal government better share supply chain security information with carriers, particularly smaller carriers, to help keep foreign equipment out of networks in the future.

Last month, the FCC barred use of funds from its $8.5 billion a year Universal Service Fund (USF) to purchase equipment and services from companies that pose a national security threat.

Two additional bills that aim to improve broadband mapping also passed the House. A report from the FCC earlier this month found widespread misrepresentation of broadband coverage by wireless carriers.

“The first step in expanding broadband to communities in America who lack adequate access is to understand exactly where those communities are,” said Reps. Greg Walden and Bob Latta. “These bipartisan bills will help us assess the availability of internet across our country and take the necessary steps to improve connectivity for all Americans, regardless of their ZIP code. Importantly, these bills will help ensure we are not repeating past mistakes and are directing our limited resources to the communities who need them most. We look forward to swift action in the Senate to send these bipartisan bills to President Trump’s desk.”

The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act or the Broadband DATA Act requires the FCC to issue new rules to require the collection and dissemination of granular broadband availability data and to establish a process to verify the accuracy of such data. The Mapping Accuracy Promotion Services Act or the MAPS Act specifies that it is unlawful for a person to willfully, knowingly or recklessly submit inaccurate broadband service data.

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