5G a battleground for the new Cold War
December 17, 2018
In the latest issue of Euromedia we bring our annual tour of the test and measurement landscape. As broadband capacity has increased, the emphasis has shifted from underwriting the quality of data-heavy video on crowded networks, to monitoring quality and security as unmanaged services and unmanaged devices proliferate across service provider nets.
Not just within the media business is there a focus on the integrity and security of networks – and this is before the Internet of Things really begins to be a factor for most providers or consumers. Recently, the UK’s 02 network – and some others around the world – was off line for over a day for all 4G data following a failure in Ericsson software.
Meanwhile, at around the same time, Canada arrested the CFO of Huawei at the request of the US, and BT announced it would ban Huawei gear from the core of its 5G network. America’s antipathy to Huawei is well established, but now Australia and New Zealand – both members of the ‘five eyes’ Anglophone spook network – and Japan have barred Huawei. The fear is that all Chinese companies are de facto arms of the Chinese government and will, therefore, plant spyware in ‘enemies’ networks.
The rejection by BT will particularly hurt, if only because of the long relationship. Back in 2005, BT was Huawei’s biggest western win as the telco was persuaded by massive discounts to make the Chinese firm its main infrastructure supplier. There were security fears even then – tackled, slightly bizarrely, by having Huawei fund and staff an independent security test and monitor lab. Apparently, it has never found any spyware but has, reportedly, made some fairly stern criticism of quality control.
So, the need for monitoring and testing is going to become more and more important. Next-gen 5G is beginning to arrive and is full of promise for extending current services and introducing new ones. However, if China is banned from infrastructure supply, that leaves Nokia and the aforementioned Ericsson in the driving seat. Such a paucity of supply side doesn’t auger well for either competition or security.