Top senators from both parties are urging national security adviser Robert O’Brien to appoint a coordinator for the country’s fifth-generation wireless networks, or 5G, strategy.
“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 chairs and ranking members of the Intelligence, Homeland Security, Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees wrote in a letter on Tuesday.
“This fractured approach will not be sufficient to rise to the challenge the country faces,” they added. “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 Trump administration and security experts have identified the transition to 5G networks as a key threat.
The next-generation networks would allow for an increasing amount of internet-connected devices, many of which may not be secured against cyberattacks.
Lawmakers have also expressed concerns about Beijing’s leadership in the arena and potential dependence on technology owned by companies that are essentially required to report to the Chinese Communist Party.
“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,” Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) wrote in the letter Tuesday.
Some agencies have taken efforts to address potential Chinese threats.
The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration and NASA issued an interim rule in August banning federal agencies from purchasing equipment from five Chinese companies, citing national security concerns.