Tester Applauds Quick Passage of Huawei Legislation to Protect Montana Businesses, National Security

Tester-backed bill would help rural wireless carriers replace untrustworthy foreign technology with secure equipment

U.S. Senator Jon Tester applauded the Senate’s quick passage of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which will help rural broadband providers rip and replace Chinese telecommunications infrastructure that could pose a national security threat to the United States.

This week, Tester sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging them to take up the legislation as quickly as possible in order to protect national security and Montana businesses.

“Our nation’s security advisors make a clear and convincing case that telecommunication equipment from Chinese companies, such as Huawei, pose national security risks,” wrote Tester. “…[The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act] would authorize funding to help rural wireless carriers rip out gear from untrustworthy foreign providers and replace with secure communications equipment. These small rural carriers provide the backbone to rural economies, serving areas that often the national carriers will not. If Congress does not act, many of these small carriers may not be able to expand their business or serve rural areas at all.”

U.S. national security officials have continued to ring the alarm about the use of Chinese telecommunications equipment to build fifth generation—or 5G—networks. In particular, top officials argue that the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, which has provided broadband systems for a number of states including parts of Montana, has the ability to “access sensitive and personal information” from its global infrastructure. At the same time, removing potentially compromised technology can be a serious problem for providers in rural areas like Montana where existing equipment is very expensive to rip and replace.

The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, would prohibit the use of federal funds to subsidize the use of equipment from foreign companies that jeopardize national security and it would authorize funding to help rural wireless providers replace untrustworthy equipment with secure systems.

As a working farmer in an area with spotty cell service, Tester has led the charge for bringing reliable wireless service to rural America. Earlier this month, he sent a bipartisan letter to the FCC demanding they focus their efforts on providing reliable broadband to rural communities. He also backed the bipartisan Broadband DATA Act last year to force broadband providers to fix inaccurate coverage maps and help individuals and other entities challenge coverage maps in a non-burdensome way.

Read Tester’s full letter HERE.