The United States will push its allies at a meeting in Prague next month to adopt shared security and policy measures that will make it more difficult for China’s Huawei to dominate 5G telecommunications networks. This is a report by people who are familiar with the matter and documents were seen by Reuters.
Western governments are currently grappling with the national security implications of moving to 5G. It is common knowledge that 5G will be at least 100 times faster than the current 4G networks. In addition, given its significant role in internet-connected products ranging from self-driving cars, smart cities, augmented reality and artificial intelligence, any vulnerability there could create critical issues. If there is a proven security issue in 5G networks, it could allow hackers to exploit such products to spy or disrupt them.
The United States seems to have a firm belief of the existence of these vulnerabilities and is taking a number of steps to discourage at least ally countries from adopting Huawei’s networks. Officials from the US government have been meeting with several countries in recent months to warn them about what Washington believes to be true- that Huawei’s equipment could be used by the Chinese state to spy.
Interesting to note is that Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has repeatedly denied the allegations.
In view of the new issue, global security experts and bureaucrats have decided to form protocols and principles on the matter of security of networks. On May 2-3, 2019, officials from more than 30 countries will meet to agree on security principles for next-generation telecoms networks in Prague, said Robert Kahofer, chief of cabinet at Czech cybersecurity agency NUKIB. The Prague conference has been organized by the Czech foreign ministry with support from NUKIB, said Kahofer. The conference will be seeing delegations from all of 28 EU member states, the European Commission, NATO and around eight other countries including the United States and Australia, Kahofer said.
Interestingly, China and Russia have not been invited, he added. However, this is not because it is an “anti-Huawei or anti-China conference,” he said. After the US is clear on its stand, Europe is now the battleground for the future of 5G. the situation is not very comfortable since on one side, the US is pushing allies and partners to bar Chinese vendors, and on the other side, European governments are a bit worried and wary of the trade and economic consequences of angering Beijing.
To top this, there has been some noise from the global ISP brands that in the event of Huawei being banned, there will be consequences in terms of costs and losses, but also the global 5G program will be pushed back by some years. Last week, there were reports of Washington pushing European governments to adopt “risk-based security frameworks”. The reason being cited was the recent moves in Germany to implement stricter security standards for all 5G vendors. The result of these actions could mean a definitive stop on using Huawei and ZTE.
The toss-up now is between US trade stands and the situation where all the tremendous leaps in connectivity to drive IoT and higher technology- could be pushed back by years, in the event of non- availability of Huawei equipment for 5G.