As the global rollout of 5G approaches, Australia's former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has brought attention to the fact that the Five Eyes nations (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US) do not have any telecoms capable of winning the 5G race.
During a recent speech (opens in new tab) in London to the British foreign policy think tank the Henry Jackson Society, Turnbull shared his views on the matter and expressed his disappointment over how the Five Eyes nations do not have their own champion in 5G, saying:
"In many discussions with my western counterparts, I raised the concern that we, and in particular the Five Eyes, had got to the point where there were now essentially four leading vendors of 5G systems -- two Chinese, Huawei and ZTE, and two European, Ericsson and Nokia. With the benefit of hindsight it beggars belief that the countries which pioneered wireless technology -- the United States, the UK, Germany, Japan and with WiFi, Australia -- have got to the point where none of them are able to present one of their own telcos [as] a national, or a Five Eyes, champion in 5G."
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Turnbull also explained that Australia's decision to ban Huawei and ZTE last summer was carried out to defend the country's sovereignty and as a “hedge against changing times”.
Distinction between core and edge networks
The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) recommended the ban on Huawei and ZTE due to how the distinction between core and edge networks disappears in 5G. This means that any potential threat on a network will be a threat to the whole network.
Director-general of the ASD Mike Burgess explained his reasoning behind the ban, saying:
"In consultation with operators and vendors, we worked hard this year to see if there were ways to protect our 5G networks if high-risk vendor equipment was present anywhere in these networks. At the end of this process, my advice was to exclude high-risk vendors from the entirety of evolving 5G networks."
Currently the UK is considering following in Australia's footsteps which is why Turnball spoke so passionately on the issue while in London.