FCC, USAID Collaborate to Assist Developing Countries in 5G Network Rollout

On Wednesday, two federal agencies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) pledging their efforts to promote the deployment of “open and secure” 5G networks in the developing world. According to the FCC’s press release, under the agreement, the two organizations will “promote open, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet and digital infrastructure and advance interagency coordination on network security in developing countries.”

The MOU sets forth the roles and responsibilities of each agency under the agreement. For its part, USAID has agreed to assist foreign governments who request help reforming and developing telecommunications policy and infrastructure development. USAID will also educate private-sector and civil-society organizations about cyber risks, build their defense skills, and bolster their capacity to shape national Internet governance policy, among other things.

The FCC has agreed to facilitate developing country government telecommunications instruction via meetings, webinars, and training sessions. It also agreed to work with governments on 5G security and the adoption of the Prague Proposals, a set of non-binding suggested practices agreed to by global leaders regarding 5G network security.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, commenting on the MOU, said “this agreement will help ensure we can continue to meet those expectations, especially in developing countries. I thank our friends at USAID for their dedication to the world’s 5G success and for their commitment to work closely with us on these important efforts.”

According to the press release, the FCC is preparing for the rollout of 5G networks by making spectrum available through its 5G FAST Plan, including updating infrastructure policy and antiquated regulations. In addition, the agency and its partners have taken security actions, by, for example, prohibiting the use of the Universal Service Fund to buy services or equipment from companies that pose national security or telecommunications threats. The press release specifically referenced “closely scrutinized Chinese government controlled telecom companies,” in relation to such threats.