Cyberwar and 5G: The U.S. and Its Allies Take on Huawei
by Jim Lundy
The recent arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada has brought to light another vector in the cyberwars. It has to do with 5G, the new cellular standard coming online in 2019 and 2020.
The U.S. and members of their Five Eyes security alliance (Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand) are attempting to block Huawei from installing equipment or from participating in the rollout of the new 5G networks in each country. This blog discusses some of the aspects that are at play.
Who Is Meng Wanzhou?
Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Huawei founder, Ren Zhengfei. She was arrested over concerns that Huawei is supplying equipment to Iran. They were doing this via a subsidiary called Skycom. Ms. Wanzhou is currently out of jail on a $10 million bond. However, what the arrest seems to imply is a greater war for information by using the growing power of LTE and 5G networks to access information.
Why Is 5G a Cybersecurity Threat?
Because of the speed and connectivity that 5G enables, new applications will emerge that leverage 5G. Think smart cities, smart cars, smart buildings, and more. The U.S. has been advocating against allowing Huawei to participate in 5G rollouts around the world, due to their charge that Huawei is spying for the Chinese government.
The U.S. has been discussing the role of 5G with its allies, and Australia and New Zealand have both blocked access to the sale of Huawei equipment in those countries.
Who Is Winning the Race to 5G?
So far, the race appears to be between Ericsson and Huawei. Huawei claims to have signed 22 commercial contracts for 5G. Ericsson has deployments in Japan (Fujitsu), South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, and the U.S.
Besides Ericsson and Huawei, there are other providers of 5G technology as well. See the table below.
|Ericsson||Complete 5G Portfolio|
|Huawei||Complete 5G Portfolio|
|Intel||5G Mobile Trial Platform|
|Nokia||Growing 5G Portfolio|
|Qualcomm||Growing 5G Portfolio|
|Samsung||5G Devices and Appliances|
|ZTE||Growing 5G Portfolio|
Blocking the Sale of Qualcomm
Of the vendors above, they are all trying to amass a 5G patent portfolio. That is one of the reasons that the U.S. federal government blocked Singapore-based Broadcom from purchasing Qualcomm earlier this year. The feeling was that this would have given China an edge in the race to 5G.
Next for Huawei and the U.S.
There doesn’t seem to be an end to the technology war for 5G. The U.S. is concerned about cyberwarfare and rightfully so. China has had great success in stealing information from U.S. companies. We will be monitoring this, but right now, Huawei prospects look dim for doing business with the U.S. and its allies.