The State Department this week issued a Request for Information (RFI) to industry seeking technologies and solutions for trusted future fifth-generation wireless networks for its missions, a recent requirement aimed at ensuring its telecommunications traffic steers clear of Chinese equipment that could be compromised by China’s government.
The “5G Clean Path” for the department’s networks was announced in April by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and will first be aimed at missions overseas and then domestic missions, the June 8 RFI says. Eventually, the clean path requirements may be extended to overseas operations certain U.S. businesses in “critical sectors,” it says.
The U.S. intelligence community is concerned that telecommunications traffic that crosses equipment provided by Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE can be accessed by Chinese authorities. Congress has prohibited the U.S. government from using telecommunications equipment and services from these and other Chinese vendors.
“A 5G Clean Path embodies the highest standards of security against untrusted, high-risk vendors’ ability to disrupt, deny, or tamper with telecommunications traffic and services to private citizens, financial institutions, business, government, or critical infrastructure,” the RFI says. “It is important that countries and telecommunications operators understand the United States is not just talking about secure 5G networks, but is also requiring and implementing them.”
The RFI also says that the clean path is “end-to-end” and excludes any equipment from untrusted vendors anywhere in the communication chain.
Responses are due by July 3.