Butterfield Bill to Protect American Telecommunications Equipment from Foreign Suppliers Passes as Part of Year-End Deal

Dec 22, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation led by Congressmen G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-01) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) as well as, U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), to help safe safeguard American telecommunications equipment against cyber threats from untrusted foreign equipment suppliers passed as part of the year-end deal and is headed to the President’s desk.  The Ensuring Network Security Act would expand access to federal funding for telecommunications providers and educational institutions for the removal and replacement of prohibited telecommunications equipment from dangerous sources.

“I am pleased to see the bipartisan, bicameral Ensuring Network Security Act included in the latest coronavirus relief package passed by Congress.  Eastern North Carolinians and all Americans rely on their local telecommunications networks for everything from internet connectivity and educational resources to emergency services and healthcare management,” said Congressman Butterfield.”  This legislation is an important step towards purging our communications networks of high-risk equipment and ensuring their protection against foreign interference.  I was proud to introduce the Ensuring Network Security Act, and I look forward to the President signing this bill into law.”

“We must have reliable, affordable telecommunications grids that can endure national security and economic challenges especially as we are increasingly interconnected during this pandemic,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a member of the Commerce, Science and Technology Committee.  “I’m pleased this bipartisan legislation passed as part of the year-end deal because it will help strengthen network security for people across Michigan and our country.  It will further transition our country from relying on foreign telecommunications equipment while incentivizing and encouraging domestic suppliers.”

“The security of American communications and information networks is paramount to our national security.  The Ensuring Network Security Act provides additional resources to carriers and providers to remove dangerous Chinese equipment from our networks in an effort to neutralize these threats,” said Congressman Kinzinger.  “No foreign actor should have the ability to launch cyber attacks or disrupt our communications from inside our very own networks. Today, I’m proud to see our legislation included in the stimulus package to help shore up our defenses against bad actors like China and Russia who seek to infiltrate and wreak havoc upon our networks.”

“Congress took an important step to support secure networks in fully funding the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program, and the inclusion of the Ensuring Network Security Act will make sure that sufficient funding is provided first to smaller carriers and providers serving high cost areas,” said Steven K. Berry, President & CEO, Competitive Carriers Association.  “I thank Senator Peters, Senator Johnson, Congressman Butterfield, and Congressman Kinzinger for their work to recognize that the reimbursement program is absolutely essential to ensure that smaller carriers can continue to provide critical broadband services to their customers while removing equipment deemed untrustworthy.”

“Northern Michigan University is pleased that Senator Peters’ legislation – Ensuring Network Security Act -- is included in the COVID aid legislation,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson. “We are also gratified that $1.9 billion is allocated by Congress to the FCC Rip and Replace program.  Congress’s attention to these important issues will help NMU ensure that its Educational Access Network is secure and utilizes the most up-to-date technology available. The EAN provides robust, high speed internet to more than 113 communities across rural Upper Michigan. It’s critically important that rural Michigan has safe and secure internet.”

 

Background:

The Ensuring Network Security Act would allow telecommunications carriers that service up to ten million customers and public and private educational institutions to apply for this funding through the Federal Communications Commission. The bill builds off the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act signed into law earlier this year, which prohibits telecommunications companies from installing equipment from untrusted suppliers and formed a program to reimburse telecommunications providers serving under two million customers.

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