5G is not only about fast internet. It’s about transforming our lives and the United Kingdom for sure. Vodafone, EE and Three have been working with the Chinese company Huawei on developing their 5G networks. But the fear of having Huawei dominating the world of 5G technology has always been under scrutiny.
In 2018, a report published by CTIA, a trade association for the US wireless industry entitled “The Global Race to 5G” shines a light on major key facts. The report recognized China as the readiest 5G country. The US losing this leadership and ranked 3rd leader in the world of 5G technology risked massive job losses and a dramatic contraction of the region’s telecom hardware and software industries according to the report. Recently, Huawei has won 91 5G contracts across the world according to ChinaDaily.
President of the United States, Donald Trump, posted a tweet on February 2019 calling for US companies to step up their efforts or get left behind “ I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind,” said Trump. He added, “We must always be the leader in everything we do, especially when it comes to the very exciting world of technology”.
After being banned from conducting business in the US, Huawei is facing a new challenge in the UK. The US has been conducting a campaign to exclude China from providing 5G services. During an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said “over the past months we’ve been out around the world just making sure everybody had the same information, that countries understand the risk of putting this Huawei technology into their IT systems”. Huawei, the second-largest mobile supplier in the world, is considered a security threat as it could be used by China for spying via its 5G equipment. Such concerns put greater focus on Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei – his military background and association with China’s communist party. “If a country adopts this and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them, we won’t be able to work alongside them” avowed Secretary of State.
According to Pompeo, Huawei is offering a cheap deal for these countries and that’s why the world is at risk because better products always cost money. On the other hand, in January 2020, a letter was sent from the United States Senate to UK Prime minister Boris Johnson referring to Huawei’s 5G bid in the Netherlands that was made in 2019. According to industry experts, this bid does not even cover the costs of a part as it was 60% less expensive to the nearest competitor. This letter aims to persuade the UK to reject Huawei’s inclusion in its 5G infrastructure, referring that the 5G revolution is just the beginning. The Huawei intervention into 5G technology was labelled as an “equipment-centric solution”. This letter mentioned a very important statement. “The more countries do not allow Huawei to participate in their 5G network, the more market space there is for innovators and entrepreneurs to develop competing products”. The letter made it clear. A potential collaboration with Huawei would threaten a potential US-UK free trade agreement.
Despite US warnings, the UK announced late January 2020, that it would allow Huawei to build parts of its 5G internet network. However, the UK government announced that “core” elements of the country’s telecoms infrastructure are to be excluded. Huawei, to be labelled “a high-risk vendor”, would only have access to 35% of the network. Tom Cotton, US Senator for the State of Arkansas, commented on twitter “I fear London has freed itself from Brussels only to cede sovereignty to Beijing”.
Boris Johnson’s government decision would put the United Kingdom in a pickle. How will the US will react if the UK doesn’t follow its rule especially if other countries use the UK as a cover to work with Huawei? In fact, traditional American allies such as Canada, Germany, France, and Japan are considering using Huawei technology as they begin establishing their own 5G network. This would undoubtedly make Huawei a dominant player in the international telecom industry.
Post-Brexit, the UK will be looking to strengthen its relationship with China. On the other hand, the UK will be looking for a trade deal with Washington. US reporter Jonathan Swan posted a tweet on January 28, 2020 describing UK decision as a disaster for UK-US relationship. On the other hand, if the UK chooses to follow the US rules it would risk delaying 5G for years. This will cost the UK an arm and a leg. Only a few alternative providers would be ready to replace Huawei. Ericsson and Nokia from Sweden and Finland respectively.
Huawei seems ready for the challenge. Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei told BBC that UK decision won’t affect Huawei investment in the country. “If the US won’t trust us, we will shift our investment from the US to the UK on an even bigger scale and we hope that the UK will trust us even more.”
In March 2020, an unsuccessful attempt to force UK PM Boris Johnson to remove Huawei’s involvement entirely was made. A group of Tory MPs put forward an amendment to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill to try and stop Huawei’s involvement in 5G technology. By December 31, 2022, and following this amendment, firms classified as “high-risk vendors” by the National Cyber Security Center would be banned entirely from the UK’s 5G project. The UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tried to reassure the group of backbenchers. He promised that the UK will continue working with its Five Eyes Security partners- US included- to find alternative solutions. Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who has been leading the group pushed this amendment for a vote. According to BBC, 306 MPs from across the house voted against the amendment, defeating it. While only 282 MPs voted in favor of the amendment.
An open letter from Victor Zhang, Vice President of Huawei entitled “Helping Keep Britain connected” mentioned that due to Covid-19 data, use has increased by 50%, placing significant pressure on telecom systems. “Disrupting our involvement in the 5G rollout would do Britain a disservice”, said Zhang.
Huawei has always been considered high-risk for the United Kingdom. On January 28, 2020, the National Cyber Security Center NCSC, published guidance for the risk management of high-risk vendors in telecommunications networks. NCSC pointed out that the Chinese State has carried out cyber-attacks against the UK and will continue to do so.
New US sanctions would be a game-changer. On May 24, 2020, the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) launched a review that will evaluate whether additional US sanctions by Huawei will make it difficult for the UK to use the Chinese vendor’s technology. PM Boris Johnson has told officials to create plans aiming to eliminate the use of Huawei equipment in the national 5G network by 2023. But ultimately, it is impossible to get rid of Huawei equipment by 2023. Instead, MPs are discussing plans to prohibit the purchase and installation of new equipment from 2023.
In a never-ending story, what would the implications be if the UK decides to pull out Huawei from its network? Vodafone have already said that removing Huawei from its network will be extremely costly.
The race for 5G: Ericsson, Huawei close in on separate markets
Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson has partnered with Taiwanese operator Asia-Pacific Telecom (APT) to modernize its current 4G network infrastructure, as well as non-standalone 5G-ready equipment and services.
The agreement, which was announced on Monday, will see Ericsson provide high-performing radio access network (RAN) solutions from its 5G-ready Radio System portfolio as well as 5G NSA licenses to do 5G Multi-Operator Core Networks (MOCN).
“Our enhanced 5G platform provides the technological backbone for the nation’s first Multi-Operator Core Network and we will continue to support both service providers with their successful integration and partnership,” Chafic Nassif, President of Ericsson Taiwan, said in a statement.
With the deployment of Ericsson Network Manager, APT will be able to dynamically operate between 4G and 5G networks, with a set of unified applications to securely manage radio access, transport, and core networks in an end-to-end manner.
The contract also covers Ericsson Network Manager, OSS migration services and upgrade, as well as integration with APT’s rival, Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET) on the 3.5GHz frequency band in Taiwan.
Back in September 2020, FET and APT announced a partnership to provide 5G services on Taiwan’s 3.5GHz frequency band through the nation’s first MOCN – where two or more core networks share the same RAN and bandwidth. The collaboration includes 700MHz shared RAN to be used on both 4G and 5G technologies.
“Ericsson continues to accelerate the overall progress of 5G development in Taiwan, supporting both APT and FET to quickly launch new services to market and provide Taiwanese consumers and enterprises with the highest quality communication services,” Nassif added.
Ericsson now has 124 commercial 5G agreements with communications service providers globally, 74 of which have been publicly announced.
Meanwhile across the Pacific, Chinese telecoms titan Huawei has received the green light by the Brazilian government allowing it to partake in the country’s 5G auction due to be held in June.
According to local media quoting sources close to the decision, the government will not restrict the Chinese vendor from aiding in its 5G deployments. The decision is due to the financial burdens for local operators to replace already installed Huawei equipment, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump’s departure from the West Wing.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is considered to be a massive ally of Trump, whose government has frequently lobbied and pushed for financial programs and initiatives to sway Brazilian operators from buying equipment from Huawei.
However, as inauguration day looms ever closer for President-elect Joe Biden, Bolsonaro is looking to backtrack his view that Huawei shares private data with the Chinese government – a claim made by the Trump administration as the trade war between both world powers escalated.
Brazilian telecom operators were all against the Huawei ban to begin with, as all operators snubbed an invitation from U.S. undersecretary of state for economic growth and the environment Keith Krach, an effort to rally support.
Even the Brazil’s vice president, Hamilton Mourao, also stood against the ban, as he told reporters that any company which is able to prove their credentials in maintaining the country’s national sovereignty and data protection will be allowed to supply 5G equipment and services.
Nokia to help U.S. federal 5G cybersecurity following Huawei ban
Traditionally, companies and banks with high sensitive information install antivirus software to counter any possible security risks that could compromise their operations.
To counter this growing threat, Nokia has been selected to lend its 5G technology and expertise to a US federal project led by the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE).
This development came after Huawei was banned from deploying 5G communications equipment in countries like the U.S., Australia, Taiwan, the U.K., and others.
Nokia claimed the throne to become the main 5G solutions provider in NCCoE’s 5G Cybersecurity Project.
5G’s essential security features will be used for various industry sectors to mitigate risks and meet compliance requirements.
Nokia was selected by NCCoE to participate in the project due to its global success in 5G networks, including hardware and software, and mobile network security and 5G RAN expertise- to help enhance a reference design and build use cases on standards-based solutions.
Details of the project
The 5G Cybersecurity Project will identify several 5G use cases and determine how the elements of the 5G structural design can provide security capabilities to improve identified risks and meet industry sectors’ compliance requirements.
The extent of this project is to leverage the 5G standardized security features which are defined in 3GPP standards to provide enhanced cybersecurity capabilities built into network equipment and end user devices.
In parallel, many experts claim that 5G will bring significant benefits in the fight against cybercrime.
John Marinho, vice president at wireless comms industry body CTIA, says “5G will tailor security updates for every single device, and also boost encryption.”
In addition, leveraging 5G to define method and approaches to achieve: flexible 5G security architecture tailored for a government environment, government-controlled security policy, end-to-end security for the mobile device to the core and approaches to implement interoperable secure unclassified voice across Federal Government departments and agencies.
“5G will touch every aspect of our lives and security must be integrated up front rather than an add-on element of 5G networks,” Kevin Stine, Chief of the Applied Cybersecurity Division at NIST, said. “We’re looking forward to working with our project collaborators such as Nokia to show 5G’s advanced standards based security features as well an architecture that leverages foundational security capabilities available in cloud technologies,” he added.
5G RAN software
Nokia is also deploying their 5G RAN software and core solution along with IP-Backhaul for the project, to improve its 5g security.
The NCCoE has announced that Nokia is their main 5G solutions provider and collaborator. Nokia will partner with NCCoE’s 5G experts and other vendors to ensure a safe and secure transition from 4G to 5G networks.
Moreover, the crisis that happened due to Huawei’s ban came to the advantage of Nokia, as someone’s loss is someone’s gain.
On the road to digitization: Verizon expands 5G mobile and home service
The future holds many interesting facts regarding the fifth-generation technology in terms of its usage and benefits in many aspects in our daily lives leading to the digitization.
As such, Verizon announced the expansion of its 5G Ultra-Wideband (UWB) network to cover a greater number of homes and phones.
The American telecommunication company broadened its network to six more cities which will get Verizon’s home 5G service and three are getting its high-speed mobile 5G service this month, in parallel with its continued hard work of spreading fast millimeter-wave 5G across the country.
Details of expanding 5G
Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, said “We create the networks that move the world forward, and our 5G network brings incredible capabilities that will drive us all.” He added that “We’re committed to providing our customers with access to the newest technologies and experiences that will shape our future.”
While Verizon notes that its nationwide 5G service is available for 230 million people across 2,700 US cities, the network also has greater reach, reuses 4G airwaves and has performance similar to 4G.
In addition, the carrier is offering 12 months of access to the new Discovery+ service which IGN describes as “the ultimate streaming platform for foodies, nature lovers, and home repair aficionados,” in order to encourage more customers to become 5G Home subscribers.
New customers also receive a free smart home bundle of Amazon devices including an Echo Show 5, Ring Stick Up Cam, Echo Dot, and Amazon Smart Plug.
5G in homes during COVID
During the pandemic, Verizon’s $50 home gigabit service is a more captivating concept for many people than its outdoor-focused UWB 5G mobile service, however, it’s hard to know how many people in each city can get the home system.
The carrier asks customers to enter their address into a qualifier form to register the service instead of having a coverage map for the home service. For example, Chicago and Minneapolis fell short of the UWB mobile coverage service back in October 2020.
Nonetheless, some measures would change that fact.
Verizon partner Pivotal Commware, discussed in-home repeaters that, when placed on rooftops or outside windows, can help stretch 5G coverage to more homes. Also, Qualcomm plans on setting better 5G antennas that are too large for mobile devices but can fit into home internet units.
Digitization will grow and increase by having 5G reach homes and phones with smart homeowners being able to better access video and images of their property and receive more data faster than before on their smart phone regarding the occurrences taking place in their home.
“We ended 2020 with 2,700 cities with Nationwide 5G service serving 230 million people, 12 cities with access to our 5G Home service; We’re rolling out new services to more customers continuing the digital transformation Verizon has been driving,” Kyle Malady, Chief Technology Officer for Verizon said.
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