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5G and the Enemy of the State: China

5G

… a 2017 Chinese law requiring all citizens and companies to cooperate with the nation’s intelligence agencies applies to activities beyond China’s borders.”

Nate Snyder is a senior adviser at Cambridge Global Advisors, a national security consulting and strategic communications firm. In an interview with Channel Partners, he said China’s directive is especially concerning if Huawei is going to form the backbone of the 5G network.

Cambridge Global Advisors' Nate Snyder

Cambridge Global Advisors’ Nate Snyder

“There’s a severe lack of confidence if we’re sharing sensitive information — intelligence or information with that directive hanging over our head,” said Snyder, a former counterterrorism official in the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration.

“You wouldn’t want to share something on a network where you know somebody might be listening,” he added.

Snyder suggested it’s critical that communications providers in the United States and around the world figure out how to establish standards for interoperability with 5G networks.

Unlike 4G, which is “heavily reliant on hard technology” like servers, 5G networks will be largely software-based, the security expert explained.

“That’s how you’re going to plug in,” Snyder said. “That’s how you’re going to diversify. That’s how we could catch up in the race that we’re woefully behind on.”

More to the point, the idea is interoperability will foster innovation while making U.S. providers and their allies less reliant on the likes of Huawei.

“Moving toward open, interoperable networks will encourage competition and innovation, it will provide additional layers of network security, and most importantly, it will defend against one provider gaining monopoly control over portions of 5G and future-generation networks globally,” Ridge wrote in the RealClearWorld op-ed.

Snyder expressed support for recent U.S. government actions targeted at Huawei, but he reiterated the missing piece is how U.S. communications providers will play a role in protecting the security of 5G networks.

“OK, government, you’ve done your part,” he told Channel Partners. “What is next? What do you … want us to do as providers? Like, how are we organizing around this? And there hasn’t been really any direction one way or another.”

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