U.S. Senators call for new 5G policy coordinator in Trump administration

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that a bipartisan coalition of eight senators is pressing the Trump administration to create a new White House position to coordinate policy on 5G wireless technology.  Citing a lack of “coherent national strategy,” the Republican and Democratic leadership of four Senate committees called for the designation of a “senior individual focused solely on coordinating and leading the nation’s effort to develop and deploy future telecommunications technologies.” The eight senators said the role was vital to preventing the U.S. from falling behind on deploying the technology—seen as an economic and national security threat—while signaling to allies the seriousness of the administration’s commitment to the issue.

“While we appreciate the progress being made within and across departments and agencies, we are concerned that their respective approaches are not informed by a coherent national strategy,” the senators wrote in the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal (see below for text of the entire letter). “In our view, the current national level approach to 5G comprises of a dispersed coalition of common concern, rather than a coordinated, inter-agency activity.”

The senators warned that without a point person focusing on 5G issues, federal agencies within the Trump administration would continue to work disjointedly and fail to identify “national authority and policy deficiencies that do not neatly fall into a single department or agency.”

“This fractured approach,” the letter added, “will not be sufficient to rise to the challenge the country faces.”

The letter was signed by Richard Burr (R., N.C.)  and Mark Warner (D., Va.), the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) and Gary Peters (D., Mich.), who lead the Senate Homeland Security Committee; James Risch (R., Idaho) and Robert Menendez, (D., N.J.), of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and James Inhofe (R., Okla.) and Jack Reed (D., R.I.), of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Image result for image of 5G coordinator

The Trump administration recently briefed the Senate committees on U.S. efforts to deploy 5G, according to the letter. A person familiar with the matter said the briefing took place Sept. 18, 2019.

The WSJ couldn’t immediately be determined whether the White House would consider the request from the coalition of senators. The Trump administration is currently overseeing an effort to reduce staff at the National Security Council, and has eliminated roles on the council in the past—such as cybersecurity coordinator—despite bipartisan opposition to the move.

For more information, write to Dustin Volz at dustin.volz@wsj.com and Drew FitzGerald at andrew.fitzgerald@wsj.com

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U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, says it is disconcerting that the Trump Administration lacks a coherent 5G strategy.

Senator Reed, along with a bipartisan group of Senate leaders sent a letter to President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, urging him to name a senior coordinator for the effort to deploy 5G, and taking the Trump Administration to task for its “fractured approach” that “will not be sufficient to rise to the challenge the country faces.”

The letter, which was also signed by the Chairman and Ranking Members from Senate Armed Services; Foreign Relations; Homeland Security; and Intelligence Committees, stated: “Without a national strategy, facilitated by a common understanding of the geopolitical and technical impact of 5G and future telecommunications advancements, we expect each agency will continue to operate within its own mandate, rather than identifying national authority and policy deficiencies that do not neatly fall into a single department or agency.”

The bipartisan letter continues: “We would further urge you to designate a dedicated, senior individual focused solely on coordinating and leading the nation’s effort to develop and deploy future telecommunications technologies.”

The letter notes that China is stepping up efforts related to 5G technology and “China’s leadership, combined with the United States’ increased reliance on high-speed, reliable telecommunications services to facilitate both commerce and defense, poses a strategic risk for the country.”  However, to this point, the Trump Administration has not taken sufficient steps to address potential Chinese threats.

The Senators say that maintaining White House focus on 5G is especially important in light of last week’s decision to eliminate the emerging technologies directorate at the National Security Council.

In addition to Senator Reed, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jim Risch (R-ID), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

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Text of the letter is below:

November 18, 2019

Mr. Robert O’ Brien
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC, 20006

Dear Mr. O’Brien,

Several leaders within the Executive Branch recently briefed the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Senate Armed Services

Committee on the United States’ efforts to develop and deploy fifth generation (5G) telecommunications technologies.

As you may be aware, the United States and its allies are facing an unprecedented security challenge with the current marketplace of 5G technologies. While the United States has led in the development and deployment of previous telecommunications evolutions, 5G represents the first evolutionary step for which an authoritarian nation leads the marketplace for telecommunications solutions. China’s leadership, combined with the United States’ increased

reliance on high-speed, reliable telecommunications services to facilitate both commerce and defense, poses a strategic risk for the country. We cannot rely exclusively on defensive measures to solve or mitigate the issue, but rather we must shape the future of advanced telecommunications technology by supporting domestic innovation through meaningful investments, leveraging existing areas of U.S. strength, and bringing together like-minded allies

and private sector expertise through a sustained effort over the course of decades, not months. A challenge of this magnitude requires a more ambitious response than traditional agency processes can support.

While we appreciate the progress being made within and across departments and agencies, we are concerned that their respective approaches are not informed by a coherent national strategy. In our view, the current national level approach to 5G is comprised of a dispersed coalition of common concern, rather than a coordinated, inter-agency activity. Without a national strategy, facilitated by a common understanding of the geopolitical and technical impact of 5G and future telecommunications advancements, we expect each agency will continue to operate within its own mandate, rather than identifying national authority and policy deficiencies that do not neatly fall into a single department or agency. This fractured approach will not be sufficient to rise to the challenge the country faces.

We hope that you, as the new National Security Adviser, will make this issue a top priority. We would further urge you to designate a dedicated, senior individual focused solely on coordinating and leading the nation’s effort to develop and deploy future telecommunications technologies. We believe that having a senior leader would position the United States to lead on telecommunications advancements, ensure the United States is appropriately postured against this strategic threat, and demonstrate to our allies the seriousness with which the nation considers the issue.

We look forward to working with you as we consider additional authorities and resources necessary to address an issue of this importance. We hope that you and your designated lead on 5G issues will continue to engage in a serious and frank dialogue with Congress about what is required to address this challenge.

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References:

https://www.reed.senate.gov/news/releases/reed-leads-bipartisan-call-for-trump-admin-to-name-5g-coordinator

https://www.warner.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/3/6/36f90524-a335-49f9-abb9-39f91ab8db29/A3317D281C5DB3F82DBD8E0EF8650037.o-brien-kudlow-ssci-18nov19.pdf

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Addendum from IPlytics, November 2019:  

Table 1: Top patent owner of 5G declarations as to the number of patent families as to office of application and grant status– Qualcomm (7), Intel (8), InterDigital (12) are only U.S. companies listed.

Company name Declared 5G families Filed at USPTO, EPO or PCT Granted in one office
Huawei Technologies (CN) 3,325 2,379 1,337
Samsung Electronics (KR) 2,846 2,542 1,746
LG Electronics (KR) 2,463 2,296 1,548
Nokia (including Alcatel-Lucent) (FI) 2,308 2,098 1,683
ZTE Corporation (CN) 2,204 1,654 596
Ericsson (SE) 1,423 1,295 765
QUALCOMM (US) 1,330 1,121 866
Intel Corporation (US) 934 885 171
Sharp Corporation (JP) 808 677 444
NTT Docomo (JP) 754 646 351
CATT (CN) 588 360 72
InterDigital Technology (US) 428 346 226
Guangdong Oppo M Telecommunications (CN) 378 363 36
Vivo Mobile (CN) 193 168 0
ASUSTeK Computer (TW) 117 103 35
NEC Corporation (JP) 114 102 84
Apple (US) 79 73 52
KT Corporation (KR) 75 53 15
ETRI (KR) 71 50 20
Fujitsu (JP) 68 18 66
Mororola Mobility (US) 56 54 50
Lenovo Group Limited (CN) 51 48 19
HTC Corporation (TW) 46 44 40
MediaTek (TW) 42 38 30
WILUS Group (KR)  41 20 2
Panasonic (JP)  33 30 9
FG Innovation (CN)  33 33 4
Sony Corporation (JP) 22 17 23
ITRI (TW) 14 13 12
SK Telecom (KR) 12 8 0
Spreadtrum Communications (CN) 11 8 6

 

 

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