White House proposes 5G funding boost for NTIA

By John Hendel POLITICO

02/10/2020 01:59 PM EST

President Donald Trump is proposing that Congress provide an approximately 80 percent spending boost for the Commerce Department’s NTIA to help prepare the agency for 5G and other technological changes.

In its fiscal year 2021 budget request, the White House is asking for $72.2 million for NTIA, which has a lead role on 5G and telecom policy matters for the administration. That’s up from the roughly $40 million annually that the agency has generally received in recent years.

The request said $25 million would be slated for “modernizing spectrum management systems” and “proposes an increase to fund NTIA’s spectrum research for 5G and other evolving advanced communications innovations.”

The funding boost to spectrum management programs includes a focus on spectrum IT systems, which could help enable the government to identify federally held airwaves that could be freed up for commercial use.

The budget request is also in line with Trump’s crackdown on Chinese telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE, which the administration regards as a threat. NTIA would receive more money for efforts to “mitigate, and manage supply chain risks to our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure,” which it said would “enable NTIA to drive and support the nation’s efforts to promote and protect our economic and national security in the fast approaching 5G environment.”

Lawmakers will have to decide how much to defer to the budget request.

NTIA has lacked a permanent administrator since the sudden resignation of David Redl last May.