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US Senate committee to look at 5G vendor security

It will "examine the security and integrity" of the carrier supply chain.

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The Commerce Committee will look into 5G supply chain security.

Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

A US Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing next week to examine the state of security in 5G networks. The 5G Supply Chain Security: Threats and Solutions hearing will take place on March 4 at 10 a.m. ET. The committee will hear from experts out of global networking giants Nokia and Ericsson.

"The hearing will examine the security and integrity of the telecommunications supply chain and efforts to secure networks from exploitation in the transition to 5G," says the web page for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It will also look at "the federal government's role in mitigating risks to telecommunications equipment and services in the US and abroad."

Currently scheduled as witnesses for the hearing are Jason Boswell, Ericsson head of security for network product solutions; Rick Corker, Nokia president of customer operations for the Americas; Steven Berry, the CEO of Competitive Carriers Association; and James Lewis, SVP of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The announcement of the hearing follows reports last week that US President Trump was planning a global 5G summit where companies like Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung -- which all provide the networking equipment behind mobile networks -- would be invited. That summit would be aimed at preventing Chinese telecom giant Huawei from gaining a 5G foothold in other nations, CNBC reported, citing unidentified Trump administration officials.

"We're going to have a lot of them in the White House to have a discussion. I'm sure the president will join us in part," CNBC said Larry Kudlow, director of the United States National Economic Council, told reporters Friday. "That would include Samsung, that would include all of our guys."

The news followed reported accusations by the US government earlier this month that Huawei can access global mobile networks by using backdoors intended for law enforcement. Huawei denied the report and has repeatedly denied having close ties with the Chinese government. That charge led Huawei to be blacklisted by the US in May when it was added to the United States' "entity list" (PDF). Trump at the same time signed an executive order essentially banning the company in light of national security concerns.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson approved Huawei for 5G last month with some conditions: The British restrictions are to exclude Huawei from building core parts of the UK's 5G networks, have Huawei's market share capped at 35% and exclude Huawei from sensitive geographic locations. The European Union allowed higher-risk vendors for 5G with similar restrictions at the end of January.

Huawei's 5G approval there came despite the US urging the UK to ban the Chinese telecommunications giant