5G wireless technology has captured the attention of Congress.  At least 30 5G-related bills have been introduced in the House and Senate this Congress, signaling widespread interest by lawmakers in 5G. Several of these bills, addressing a range of issues including national security concerns, the promotion of U.S. leadership in international 5G standards-setting bodies, and the deployment of domestic 5G infrastructure, have passed through committee with strong bipartisan support.

The Secure 5G and Beyond Act (S. 893, H.R. 2881), introduced this past spring by bipartisan groups of lawmakers in both chambers, would require the president to develop a whole-of-government national security strategy to ensure the safety of 5G wireless systems and infrastructure, in consultation with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Department of Defense (DOD). In particular, the Act calls for the strategy to protect the competitiveness of U.S. companies and the integrity of standards of international standards-setting bodies. The bill, which was reported favorably out of both the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee earlier this month, also requires an assessment of the full range of threats to U.S. leadership in 5G and future generations of wireless communications systems, and an assessment of the global competitiveness and vulnerabilities of U.S. manufacturers building 5G devices and infrastructure. Negotiations to move these bills to the floor are ongoing in both the House and Senate.

Earlier this month the House Energy & Commerce Committee also passed the Promoting United States Wireless Leadership Act of 2019 (H.R. 4500), which encourages more participation by U.S. companies and other U.S. stakeholders in global standards-setting bodies.

And just last week, the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 (H.R. 4998), which prohibits spending federal dollars on telecommunications equipment that could pose a threat to critical infrastructure and creates a fund to replace infrastructure equipment manufactured by certain foreign companies, passed the House on suspension of the rules, signaling strong bipartisan support. Negotiations are still ongoing in the Senate. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) blocked passage of the House bill last week, arguing against the House bill’s use of tax dollars to fund the replacements.

In addition, Congress has also prioritized the allocation of spectrum for 5G.  The 5G Spectrum Act (S. 2881), which would mandate a public auctioning process for C band spectrum and require the FCC to make available at least 280 MHz of spectrum, was reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee and debated on the Senate floor this month. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) is currently blocking it from moving forward.

Given the ongoing commercial release of 5G in the U.S. through 2020, we expect that legislative interest in 5G issues will continue unabated.