On Friday, U.S. National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien issued a statement confirming that the White House has approved the finalization of the U.S. National Strategy to Secure 5G Implementation Plan, an initiative under the leadership of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

5G wireless technology will be transformational with the potential to touch nearly every aspect of our lives and spur incredible economic growth. With this potential, the stakes for securing this new technology could not be higher,” O’Brien said in an official statement on Friday. “The National Strategy to Secure 5G Implementation Plan will help to provide the American people with secure, reliable, and trustworthy 5G infrastructure.”

This wide-ranging 5G plan has been devised along four “lines of effort” split between domestic and U.S.-led international initiatives.

Domestic 5G rollout

The first line of effort will be a new research and development initiative in the U.S. to develop advanced communications and networking capabilities to achieve security, resilience, safety, privacy, and coverage of 5G and beyond at an affordable cost.

NTIA says advancement of United States leadership in “Secure 5G and Beyond” systems and applications will be accomplished by enhancing centers of research and development and manufacturing, leveraging public-private partnerships spanning government, industry, academia, national laboratories, and international allies.

This line of effort will also identify incentives and options to leverage trusted international suppliers, both to facilitate secure and competitive 5G build-outs, and to ensure the global competitiveness of United States manufacturers and suppliers.

Infrastructure risk assessment

The second line of effort is oriented toward identifying and assessing risks and vulnerabilities to 5G infrastructure, an area that will build on existing capabilities in assessing and managing supply chain risk.

Criteria will be developed for identifying trusted suppliers and applying a vendor supply chain risk management template to enable security-conscious acquisition decision-making.

Threat assessments will take into account requirements from various national entities, including the U.S. Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the Executive Order (E.O.) on Establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (Team Telecom), and the Federal Acquisition Security Council (FASC).

Security gaps in United States and international supply chains will be assessed, along with global competitiveness and economic vulnerabilities of U.S. manufacturers and suppliers.

Finally, this set of activities will pinpoint, develop, and apply core security principles for 5G infrastructure, in close cooperation with the private sector and other stakeholders.

Economic and national security

A third line of effort will address risks to U.S. economic and national security in the development and deployment of 5G infrastructure worldwide.

Per NTIA, the U.S. will identify incentives and policies necessary to close identified security gaps in close coordination with the private sector and through continuous evaluation of commercial, security, and technological developments in 5G networks.

Policies will be marked out to ensure the economic viability of the U.S. domestic industrial base, in coordination with the private sector through listening sessions and reviews of best practices.

“High risk” vendors in U.S. 5G infrastructure will be identified and assessed through efforts such as E.O. 13873, on “Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain.”

Responsible global 5G development and deployment

The fourth and final line of effort will tackle responsible global development and deployment of 5G technology.

NTIA says a key component of this area will be diplomatic outreach and engagement to advocate for the adoption and implementation of 5G security measures prohibiting the use of “untrusted vendors” in all parts of 5G networks. A related component involves the provision of technical assistance to mutual defense treaty allies and strategic partners of the United States to maximize the security of their 5G and future generations of wireless communications systems and infrastructure.

EXIM’s role

A statement from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) on Sunday confirmed the key role that the export credit agency will play in supporting this national 5G implementation plan.

EXIM will support U.S. exports of 5G technologies by providing loan guarantees, trade credit insurance, working capital guarantees, and direct loans. EXIM notes the agency can work in a wide range of markets, offering support for public and private sector borrowers to procure trusted 5G equipment and services with United States content.

In support of this broader mission, EXIM will maintain a series of co-financing structures with partner export credit agencies from like-minded countries such as Korea, Japan, Finland, and Sweden to support 5G procurement from United States vendors and trusted vendors from other countries.

Where feasible, EXIM says it will collaborate with export credit agencies from partner countries to offer streamlined joint financing for projects that include content from both countries. EXIM has joint finance agreements with sixteen export credit agencies and does not require a standing agreement to co-finance deals with other export credit agencies.

“The People’s Republic of China’s aggressive global expansion in 5G challenges our prosperity and security. EXIM, through close partnership with the private sector, and as part of a whole-of-government approach, supports the development, deployment, and management of secure, reliable 5G communications infrastructure worldwide, arm-in-arm with our closest allies and partners,” said EXIM Chairman Kimberly Reed. “I specifically want to commend National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien for his leadership on this critical issue.”

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