U.S. government & tech companies to create software standards for 5G telecommunications networks

The White House wants U.S. tech firms to collaborate on one or more 5G infrastructure software standard(s). The plan would build on efforts by some U.S. telecom and technology companies to agree on common engineering standards that would allow 5G software developers to run code on machines that come from nearly any hardware manufacturer.

That would reduce, if not eliminate, reliance on Huawei equipment.according to Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council.  That would reduce, if not eliminate, reliance on Huawei equipment.  The U.S. contends Huawei has strong links to the Chinese military, making use of its equipment a national-security risk. Huawei has denied such links and says it operates independently of the Chinese government.

The big-picture concept is to have all of the U.S. 5G architecture and infrastructure done by American firms, principally [1],” Larry Kudlow said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “That also could include Nokia and Ericsson because they have big U.S. presences.”

Note 1.:  That is highly unlikely to happen, because there are ZERO U.S. firms producing 5G infrastructure.  The only non-Asian 5G infrastructure equipment makers are Nokia and Ericsson- both headquartered in Europe.  5G network operators AT&T and Verizon are working with Cloud Service Providers, Microsoft and Amazon, respectively on integration of mobile edge computing with their 5G networks.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

AT&T, Microsoft and Dell [2] are among the companies working with the administration on the project.  “Dell and Microsoft are now moving very rapidly to develop software and cloud capabilities that will, in fact, replace a lot of the equipment,” Mr. Kudlow said. “To quote Michael Dell, ‘Software is eating the hardware in 5G.’

Note 2.:  None of those companies are now or will in the future make 5G infrastructure.  AT&T is a network operator that purchases 5G infrastructure equipment, Microsoft is primarily a Cloud Service Provider (AZURE), while Dell is an IT infrastructure company that primarily sells to enterprise data center customers.

Kudlow is likely referring to virtualization of the 5G radio access and 5G core networks when he mentioned “software and cloud capabilities that will, in fact, replace a lot of the equipment.”  Yet there’s already a lot of work that’s been done in vRAN and cloud RAN (sometimes referred to as “cloud native radio access networks.”

For open source cellular hardware, there is an OpenRAN project within the O-RAN Alliance, which involves disaggregating a cellular Base Station into its constituent components and defining interfaces between those.  The Open Network Foundation (ONF) is collaborating with the O-RAN Alliance to generate open source software for that project.  There are also several  RAN projects within the Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP), including OpenRAN, vRAN Fronthaul and OpenRAN 5G NR Base Station.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

White House officials say they are taking the effort seriously because of the potential value of 5G technology to the broader economy. Industry boosters say the new 5G engineering standard will power an “Internet of Things” in which factories, household appliances and vehicles are connected in the way mobile phones are now. They say 5G can do for future tech startups what 4G technology did for smartphone apps like Uber Technologies Inc. and Snapchat Inc., building a foundation for future innovation.

Image result for graph of 5G telecom equipment market share

“Talk is a good start,” said Roger Entner, an analyst for industry researcher Recon Analytics. “But in the end it needs action. More funding will accelerate everything.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Similar U.S. government initiatives and proposals:

The effort appears to line up very closely with a new program at the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) called “Open Programmable Secure 5G” (OPS-5G)As noted by Data Centre Dynamics, the program promises to “create open source software and systems enabling secure 5G and subsequent mobile networks such as 6G. The signature security advantage of open source software is increased code visibility, meaning that code can be examined, analyzed and audited, either manually or with automated tools. In addition, the portability of open source serves, as a desired side-effect, to decouple the hardware and software ecosystems. This significantly raises the difficulty of a supply-chain attack and eases the introduction of innovative hardware into the market.”

U.S. lawmakers have proposed funding research and development into open 5G software standards. A bipartisan group of senators in January proposed tapping proceeds from the Federal Communications Commission’s coming spectrum license auctions to pay for research grants into those technologies.  The administration is looking into those efforts but hasn’t yet decided whether to back them, Mr. Kudlow said.

If U.S. and European companies work separately, it could take longer to develop world-beating technology. If they work together, it could raise antitrust concerns.  However, Kudlow said he didn’t believe antitrust would be an issue, saying the companies would compete in providing 5G technology. “We’re taking a coordinating role among leading companies,” he said.

He didn’t provide a specific time frame, though others in the government have said they expect to have a system running within 18 months. Earlier, the White House considered subsidizing a new hardware competitor to Huawei or backing a government-owned 5G network but rejected both.

President Trump is squarely behind the effort, said Kudlow, who is leading the initiative as director of the National Economic Council.

“The president kept saying to me, ‘Can’t we just put it (5G) under one simple infrastructure?’” Kudlow said. “We’re trying to create an American soup-to-nuts infrastructure for 5G. He kept hearing that Huawei seems to be able to do it.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Huawei’s threat to U.S. and European tech companies:

Paul Triolo, head of global technology policy at the Eurasia Group, a business consulting firm agreed that Huawei has a formidable lead in 5G technology.  “The problem is you’re starting late in the game to fix this problem,” Mr. Triolo said of the U.S. effort. He added that the initiative could also threaten Nokia and Ericsson by making their machines into commodities, Mr. Triolo said.

Perhaps the most insightful proceeding on Huawei and the Chinese threat to 5G in the US is playing out at the FCC, the US government agency charged with oversight of telecom networks. That agency is considering a proposal that would bar the purchase of Huawei equipment among US companies that receive government subsidies for network buildouts in rural areas. The FCC is also evaluating its own rip-and-replace program of existing Huawei equipment in US networks.

However, unlike some of the other Trump administration efforts against Huawei, the FCC’s proceeding is being held in the open, with publicly available comments from all the companies involved in the issue.

Huawei is the world’s largest supplier of wireless networking equipment, yet it generates less than 1% of its revenue from the US market, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

Huawei has denied any links to Beijing, but the Chinese government is largely responsible for Huawei’s success due to the immense funding it funneled to the company and the measures it took to block competitors from impeding Huawei’s rise in the China market. As a result, Huawei became a telecom juggernaut not just in China, but all over the world. Now, the US is trying to adopt a similar strategy to promote US firms, and it wants to do so ahead of more widespread rollout of next-gen 5G networks in the coming years.

“If the US wants 5G hardware and software developed by a US or European company, the government should encourage companies to begin negotiations with Huawei to license our 5G technology,” Huawei’s US security lead Andy Purdy told the WSJ. Purdy says that Huawei’s intellectual property is integral to fast 5G deployment, and that without it, “the combined product will be one to two years behind the comparable Huawei products in terms of functionality and assurance.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

References:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-pushing-effort-to-develop-5g-alternative-to-huawei-11580831592

https://www.lightreading.com/security/atandt-microsoft-others-get-behind-trumps-anti-huawei-agenda-/d/d-id/757286?

https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/5/21124888/us-5g-huawei-white-house-trump-china-alternative-telecom-standard

7 thoughts on “U.S. government & tech companies to create software standards for 5G telecommunications networks

  1. The WSJ article says that the White House expects to have a standard in place within 18 months. That could be overly optimistic considering how far ahead Huawei is at developing this technology. Having to start from scratch for companies not used to building this type of highly specialized equipment could mean that the U.S. will fall behind in its effort to cover the country with 5G.

    The overall effort is further complicated by both the fact that mobile networks use highly specialized equipment that doesn’t usually integrate across platforms, as well as the impact 5G could have on the economy. That means that there is pressure to build out networks as quickly as possible at a time that the equipment needed is limited. While other manufacturers like Nokia and Ericsson make telecom components, neither do so at the scale of Huawei.

    The rollout of 5G networks is supposed to bring about dramatic changes to the way we work and communicate, and not just for smartphones. It has real implications for remote workers, manufacturing, telemedicine, and supply chain management. Those changes could have a broad impact on the larger economy as companies take advantage of the new opportunities that come with ultrafast, low-latency wireless.

    And, in many ways, 5G promises to solve many of the problems that come with our existing networks, especially related to bandwidth and latency. Those solutions, however, could be stalled if the government can’t first solve its Huawei problem.

    https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/5g-is-coming-but-only-after-us-figures-out-its-huawei-problem.html

  2. How the US buying Ericsson or Nokia would impact networking, by Peter Newman of Business Insider

    Following the UK’s decision to allow wireless network operators to source noncore equipment from Huawei, US officials are considering buying a competitor to the Chinese supplier, such as Ericsson or Nokia.

    US Attorney General William Barr outlined steps the US is considering encouraging or taking to counter Huawei’s prominence – with the overall goal of ensuring that 5G networks remain secure and the US maintains global technological leadership.

    Barr’s statements laid out two potential courses of action that the US could take to blunt Huawei’s dominance in the global networking equipment market. He said:

    “We have to make a decision on the horse we’re going to ride in this race. Who is the 5G equipment supplier or suppliers that we will rely on to compete against Huawei around the globe, to win contracts from operators and blunt Huawei’s drive to domination. … These concerns could be met by the United States aligning itself with Nokia and/or Ericsson through American ownership of a controlling stake, either directly or through a consortium of private American and allied companies. Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a far more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power or their staying power.”

    The overall goal of the options Barr outlined is to ensure that 5G networks remain secure and the US maintains global technological leadership. And were the US to buy a Scandinavian networking vendor directly or work with private interests to convince them to do so, it would radically transform the global wireless networking market.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/us-could-buy-ericsson-nokia-to-compete-against-huawei-report-2020-2?

  3. Wonderful article, well-explained, but I’m doubtful US government and tech companies can create software standards for 5G networks without the approval of 3GPP, ITU, or ETSI!

    With the emergence of 5G and new technology like embedded sim(esim), purchasing and utilizing data plans have become revolutionized, eliminating the need to show up in person at mobile stores to purchase data plans. For a quick intro, eSIM is an embedded SIM chip built into newer mobile phones, enabling consumers to get mobile services digitally. Esims have also paved way for a pay-as-you-go business model, where service providers offer highly customizable plans, and customers cut down a lot on expenditures and save huge amounts of money. eSIM-enabled consumer devices are on track to exceed 250 million by the end of 2019 and are expected to expand beyond flagship devices to reach 1 billion within 2 years.

    It is indeed fascinating to see the developments in cellular technology, which leads the way to new innovation and advancements.

  4. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this superb IEEE Techblog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

    1. Thanks for your kind words. IEEE Techblog does not accept donations or advertisements. That permits us to be objective and reveal the truth that is almost always obfuscated/hidden by main stream media tech websites.

  5. It’s hard to find informative and accurate blog posts on this subject of U.S. government collaboration with industry on 5G software standards. I doubt that will happen unless the work in under a recognized SDO. Many thanks for your dedication and excellent work on the IEEE Techblog.

  6. Thanks for finally talking about an initiative to create software standards for 5G telecom networks. While that’s surely needed, especially for a “cloud native” 5G Core network and features like network slicing, I don’t think it will happen in the near future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*

 
 

 

Solve : *
30 ⁄ 6 =