By Harry Clapsis, Government Affairs Associate, SIA
In January, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act (S. 3189), aimed at encouraging the growth and implementation of virtualized cellular networks. The semiconductor industry is a key part of the push towards virtualized networks, which utilize off-the-shelf computer networking equipment to build a cellular wireless network. Continued federal research and development funding is critical for the U.S. to maintain its leadership in future wireless technologies. SIA applauds the introduction of the bill and encourages Congress to consider and approve it.
The legislation would help foster the growth of a virtualized radio access network (RAN) ecosystem. Among other provisions, the bill would create an R&D fund of at least $750 million to spur movement towards open-architecture, software-based wireless technologies. It would also create a $500 million multilateral fund aimed at accelerating the adoption of trusted and secure equipment globally. It would also encourage greater U.S. participation in global and regional standards setting bodies.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Cosponsors include Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). On April 24, a companion version of the bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of members in the House.
Semiconductors are the foundation of nearly all modern technologies, including the off-the-shelf networking equipment used to build virtualized networks. Moving to virtualized networks has the potential to decrease cost and increase security as future wireless networks are deployed. The U.S. semiconductor industry leads the world with 59 percent market share in semiconductors for IT infrastructure and 37 percent market share in semiconductors for the smartphone market.
SIA commends introduction of this legislation and looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration to further grow the development and implementation of virtualized cellular networks.