Rapid Deployment Of 5G Is A Headache

As communications  technology becomes a key isssue for the the fast-expanding Internet of Things (IoT),the need to create  additional bandwidth is critical . While 5G technology only came into operation in 2019 its use will be almost conventional by the end of 2020.

The transition to 5G increases both speed and volume of data communication, but there are a number of important issues that are problematic. 

A lot of attention has been paid to the economic and espionage implications of the Chinese  telecoms indutry's lead in developing and operating 5G infrastructure, but the military implications remain largely overlooked.  Furthermore. 5G networks are leveraging technologies that are software-centric and are moving from custom hardware to software components running on commercial hardware. 

Fake News & Other Problems 

Recently the popular singer Keri Hilson tweeted that that 5G has been used to spread the Corona virus. Citing Wikipedia, Hilson tweeted that the first 5G service launched last November in China, writing that what we're now going through is "the affects of radiation." She is even reported to said that people died when 5G first launched although such comments are nonsense.

With the increase in software content across comes some new problems as these new 5G technology innovations are widening the attack surface of the system.  While 5G core network functions are making use of a new and different software architecture, common technologies like HTTP and REST APIs that are well known are replacing proprietary interfaces of the past. 

All of these things increase the potential for cyber security vulnerabilities and the military applications of 5G technology have vital strategic and battlefield implications for the US and many other leading military powers. 

Historically, the US military has reaped enormous advantages from employing cutting edge technology on the battlefield and  5G technology holds similar innovative potential. The next generation of telecommunications infrastructure will have a direct impact on improving military communications, however, it will also produce cascading effects on the development of other kinds of military technologies, such as robotics and artificial intelligence. 

Space-based communications will play a key role in connecting 5G devices, US Air Force leadership stressed and while military officials have expressed concern over China winning the race to 5G. “We need to up our game in 5G,” Will Roper, the US Air Force’s head of equipmnt acquisition said recently.

The global competition over 5G technology has accelerated. The Trump administration is working to isolate China’s Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, from developing a larger foothold in US partner countries. 

For instance, if the United States were to conduct a military operation in an area of interest to China, it is plausible that the Chinese government could leverage Huawei to intercept or even deny military communications. 

The Trump administration has specifically worked to keep members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, from working with Huawei. Although, so far this has not worked on UK, which is still saying it will implement a reduced version of Huawei's 5G’s network equipment.

The British Prime Minister has decided that the Chinese technology firm, along with other companies deemed "high-risk," are allowed to be part of the country's 5G and telecoms networks. But their involvement is limited. Huawei won't be allowed to have its technology involved in key parts of the UK's Critical National Infrastructure, 'core' parts of communications networks, or at sensitive military or nuclear sites. 

5G Is A Geopolitical Issue

Huawei's strong 5G presence is a concern for the US military as it could potentially undermine operations as all military activities will begin to rely more on 5G connectivity, it can’t risk having China involved in building out American infrastructure using Chinese-made tech from the likes of Huawei.

It’s all about two of the dominant superpowers in the world, China and the USA. Although there are plenty of companies from around the world that are building 5G mobile networks (notably including Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson), China's Huawei is a majot global competitor and the Five Eyes intelligence operation believes Huawei to be run by the Chinese Government. 

Wired:       I-HLS:      Council on Foreig Relations:       TechRadar:        Paper

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