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Legal reforms aiming to secure the 5G network

Ranine Awwad

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Legal reforms aiming to secure the 5G network

5G is essential for moving countries forward. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, high-speed internet connectivity became crucial, as nations were obliged to shift to E-governance, and remote working. However, concerns were brought up on the security of the 5G infrastructures. The United States has been pushing its allies to remove the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from its core 5G network claiming serious cybersecurity issues. Thus, implementing legal reform has become a major high-priority for different countries. Inside Telecom has already reported about India addressing the necessity of implementing a legal framework to secure the deployment of the 5G network.

European countries are seeking lawful ways to implement 5G telecommunications. These countries are obliged to secure user’s privacy under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). On July 24, 2020, the European Commission has published a report on Member States’ progress in implementing the EU Toolbox on 5G Cybersecurity. The report is a result of the collective work and the strong determination of all EU member states. The 5G network will be carrying sensitive information. Thus, strengthening the role and power of regulatory authorities, and applying relevant restrictions for suppliers considered high-risk is mandatory, according to the EU press release.

“With 5G network rollout going ahead across the EU, and our economies increasingly relying on digital infrastructure, as the coronavirus crisis demonstrated, it is more important than ever to ensure a high level of security”, said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market. European Union countries have taken measures to secure the 5G network and infrastructures. Sweden has changed the Electronic Communications Act to add a condition permission to “use radio transmitters “which can only be approved if it is considered that radio usage will not cause harm to national security.  As for France, under the Law N. 2019-810 approved on August 1, 2019 authorities gain power to restrict or prohibit or impose requirements or conditions for the supply, deployment, and operation of 5G equipment by making it mandatory to get an authorization from the Prime Minister before rolling-out and operating sensitive equipment for 5G (and future technology, e.g. 6G) networks.

The EU report emphasized the challenges expected for the deployment of the 5G network. Member states expect increased exposure to attacks and more potential entry points for attackers within the deployment of the 5G network. Moreover, the dependency on a single mobile operator supplier – a crucial challenge for 5G deployment – will increase the vulnerability to cybersecurity attacks. Thus, the competition between different telecom operators is crucial for the deployment of effective cybersecurity tools for the 5G network.

The current EU Telecom Rule approved in December 2018, requires the EU member states to set  security requirements for telecom providers. This law aims to encourage competition, promote new technologies, as well as protect consumer interests.

The United States has been working to promote responsible global development and deployment of 5G. On March 3, 2020, the Congress published the “Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020”. This aims to ensure the security of next-generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure in the United States and to assist allies and strategic partners in maximizing the security of next generation mobile telecommunications systems, infrastructures and software. Under the act, the President of the United States shall submit a strategy to secure the security of the fifth-generation network and infrastructures, to protect the competitiveness of companies in the United States.

On March 23, 2020, US President Donald Trump signed into law the Act. On the same day, the Administration published the National Strategy to secure a 5G strategy that contains efforts to facilitate the rollout of 5G networks.

Countries worldwide have been taking into account security challenges imposed by Huawei. However, states should work more seriously on setting up national laws to secure a 5G network.

Ranine joined Inside Telecom as an Investigative Journalist. Her extensive fieldwork and investigations shed light on many socio-economic issues. Over the past few years, she has transformed her key findings into in-depth analytical reports. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication.

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5G and cybersecurity challenges in the aviation sector

Ranine Awwad

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5G and cybersecurity challenges in the aviation sector

The aviation industry has become more digitalized. Thus, the dependence on technology has engendered more cybersecurity risks. In December 2018, Finland Helsinki Airport became the first 5G airport in the world. This achievement came out after a collaboration between the Swedish Telecom provider Telia and the Finnish airport operator Finavia. However, aviation cybersecurity is becoming more and more complex with emerging technologies like the 5G network, according to Security Boulevard.

The adoption of the fifth generation technology would improve the passenger’s experience. Moreover, 4G technology can manage around 10, 000 devices per square kilometre but a 5G network can manage a million, according to the National. The high-speed Internet will facilitate communication between aircraft and their ground control system. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global 5G in the aviation market size is expected to reach $4.2 billion by 2026.

With an increasing demand for connectivity, providing a 5G network at the airport becomes crucial. Finnish Telecommunications Company, Nokia, has been collaborating with Belgian mobile operator Citymesh aiming to enable the use of 5G at Brussels Airport by the end of March 2020. However, many challenges arise when talking about the deployment of the 5G network across the aviation market. ImmuniWeb report entitled “State of Cybersecurity at Top 100 Global Airports” states that “97 out of 100 world’s largest airports have security risks related to vulnerable web and mobile applications, misconfigured public cloud, Dark Web exposure or code repositories leaks”.

Airports have suffered from different cybersecurity attacks such as DDoS attacks or incidents in which hackers stole building plans and sensitive security protocols, states Trip Wire.

In 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has shed light on the consideration of emerging cybersecurity challenges in the aviation industry. The report states that the aviation sector will suffer from cyberattacks amid the digitalization process. Cybersecurity threats in the aviation sector are difficult to detect and control resulting in economic losses, and negative impacts on passenger’s experience. According to ‘Building cyber resilience in airports’ report published by PA Consulting, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said that 1,000 attacks on aviation systems happen each month.

5G will increase the entry point for attackers. The UK Civil Aviation Authority CAA has launched the Assure Scheme aiming to strengthen the aviation industry’s cybersecurity resilience.

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5G subscriber growth in South Korea

Karim Hussami

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5G subscriber growth in South Korea

As long as countries improve their telecoms infrastructure and enhance their offerings in mobile services, internet and wireless, they can expect to generate more subscriptions over time.

The latest 4G and 5G networks are getting the most subscribers especially in light of plans for wider deployment. As of late, 5G mobile subscribers have exceeded 7 million in South Korea in June, according to reports.

The reason behind this rise is South Korea’s ambitious efforts to offer the fastest mobile service, which began in April last year, in parallel with the anticipated increase in the number of 5G subscriptions later this year after the launch of new phones like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20.

As such, 10 percent of the country’s 69.6 million mobile subscriptions in total is represented in the latest figure. As shown by data compiled by the Ministry of Science and ICT, the country had 7.37 million 5G users as of June – up 493,101 from the previous month.

The government said in a statement, “Local operators had already deployed over 115,000 5G base stations across the country.”

South Korea has the highest number of broadband users today.

SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+ are Korea’s three main telecommunication companies with the first having the most 5G subscribers at 3.35 million, followed by KT Corp. at 2.24 million and LG U+ at 1.78 million.

The world’s first commercial 5G network rolled out in the country on April 3, 2019.

The three operators vowed last month to invest up to 25.7 trillion won to speed up improvements to 5G services and install a nationwide network by 2022.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic delaying telecom investment plans for the year, the steady growth in 5G users comes as the country pushes for the network’s wider deployment.

Although 5G is being implemented efficiently with these advanced services resulting in additional users, the 4G network has 55 million subscriptions and represents roughly 80 per cent of total mobile accounts.

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Videotron suspends international calls charges after Beirut explosion

Ranine Awwad

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Videotron suspends international calls charges after Beirut explosion

Lebanese citizens living in Canada will not have to worry about long-distance call charges. On August 6, 2020, Videotron, a Canadian communications company announced in a press release that it has suspended charges for calls from Canada to Lebanon until August 23, 2020. This move came to allow Videotron customers to reach out to their friends and family after the Beirut port explosion.

Videotron states that a long-distance call in Canada is free and unlimited. However, the company has several international calling plans. For calls to the Middle East including Lebanon, a Canadian Customer will pay $1.64/ minute for calls to a mobile phone, and $1.62/ minute for a call to a landline, according to Videotron website. On the other hand, the overseas long-distance calls scheme costs $5 per month. Under this option, a customer can make up to 10 minutes of calls to the Middle East.

Customers do not need to contact the company to make a free call to Lebanon. Videotron international charges to Lebanon are automatically canceled for all residential, business, and mobile accounts.

In 2019, Videotron’s total revenue was over 3.47 billion Canadian dollars. The company has already provided free services for its customers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, data caps on Videotron residential and business plans were suspended between March 13 until June 30, 2020. Furthermore Videotron suspended charges for the Daily Traveler Pass and canceled roaming charges for travelers outside Canada to help its customers until they were able to return home, according to the company’s website.

Canada has been home to many Lebanese people who decided to immigrate to secure jobs, healthcare, and a future for their children. Many Lebanese students are living in Canada to pursue their university studies. Videotron’s decision is crucial for Lebanese Canadians who are worried about their relatives after the Beirut blast that happened on August 4, 2020.

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