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Huawei and ZTE banned from providing 5G in Australia

The 5G is the next generation of the mobile communication protocol for your handset and smartphones, succeeding the 4G which is also known as Long-Term Evolution (LTE). For the common mobile phone user, the most important advantage of 5G connectivity is faster speed over 4G. The data rates in a 5G device is reportedly going to be greater than 10 gigabits per second, which is approximately a thousand times faster than that for a handset using LTE networks. This means that you can download a heavy-content movie in seconds, load web pages in an instant and stream video at blazing speeds.

The 5G may be able to resolve the rather inconvenient, but real, ‘last-mile’ issue. This pertains to the non-availability of network connectivity in rural or sparsely populated semi-urban areas, or between your location and the nearest fiber optics or mast. The 5G technology will enable the building of powerful wireless hotspots, which, together with low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) such as Rosa, can make Internet in remote areas more mainstream.

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The potential of 5G to intimately support Internet of Things (IoT) has been expressed by Hussain Fakhruddin in his 14 March 2018 online article (https://teks.co.in): “Along with artificial intelligence (AI) and edge computing, 5G wireless technology will be right at the heart of the burgeoning IoT revolution over the next half a decade or so. Apart from expanding the realms of possibilities for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 5G is also expected to play a major role in the development of Industry 4.0 in general, smart city applications, smart industrial software, powering connected cars, and smart homes & buildings. Seamless mobility, negligible latency, full scalability, and (hopefully) reliability will help 5G in making many high-end, mission-critical IoT projects implementable with ease. The general feeling is that the improved performance levels and network capacities of 5G technology will make it a key driver of ‘massive IoT’.” (A three-part article on IoT was written in this column in Daily Trust starting from 11 May 2015.)

The biggest benefit of 5G is believed to be its low latency, which is the short delay time between when a mobile device pings the network and when it actually gets a response.

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Huawei is reportedly on track to launch its first 5G handset by the end of this year, to be powered by the Balong 5G01 chip. Qualcomm’s X50 chip, which is specifically made for 5G, will be used by many OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) such as Korean LG and Chinese Xiaomi in the 5G race.

Unfortunately for the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, their 5G technologies are not welcome in Australia. In fact these two companies have been banned from bidding for 5G service in that country. On 22 August 2018, the Australian government issued new security guidelines for 5G carriers. Although the names Huawei and ZTE were not specifically mentioned, the message is clear when it is stated that “the Government considers that the involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from foreign government that conflict with Australian law, may risk failure by the carrier to adequately protect a 5G network from unauthorized access or interference.” A spokesperson for Huawei Australia has reportedly confirmed that “Huawei and ZTE have been banned from providing 5G technology to Australia.” Incidentally Huawei has reportedly been delivering wireless technology in Australia for close to 15 years.

In Australia’s Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms (TSSR) issued last year and expected to go into effect in September 2018, the country directs carriers and telecommunication service providers to protect their networks and infrastructure from national security threats and also notify the government of any proposed changes that may compromise the security of their network. The TSSR introduces four new measures: a) a security obligation, which requires carriers and carriage service providers to protect their networks and facilities against threats to national security from unauthorized access or interference, b) a notification requirement, which requires carriers and nominated carriage service providers to tell Government of any proposed changes to their telecommunications systems or services that are likely to have a material adverse effect on their capacity to comply with their security obligation, c) the ability for Government to obtain more detailed information from carriers and carriage service providers in certain circumstances to support the work of the Critical Infrastructure Centre, and d) the ability to intervene and issue directions when necessary.

The banning of Huawei and ZTE from providing 5G network equipment in Australia is consistent with the treatments that these companies have received in recent years from the West. The fear of U.S. and Australia lawmakers and regulators is that networking products from these two Chinese companies would have secret backdoors built in, so that Chinese government officials could spy on the U.S. (Australia). This column in Daily Trust has written extensively on this matter.

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