China’s push to dominate new wireless technology will give Beijing advanced capabilities for “mayhem and mass surveillance” if they are allowed to dominate 5G networks linking billions of devices, according to retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Spalding.
Spalding was fired from the National Security Council last February after a memo leaked in which he argued for a government takeover of the nation’s 5G mobile network – an idea lawmakers and wireless companies flatly rejected.
In a new memo written in recent days and obtained by Bloomberg, Spalding says that China’s domination of ultra-fast 5G networks – with speeds 10 – 100 times faster than current services, would “weaponize cities.”
Commercial providers are working to develop 5G networks that provide faster links than the current fourth-generation wireless service. The idea is that dramatically higher speeds—10 or even 100 times faster than current service—will eventually help support self-driving cars, smart appliances and even surgical robots.
Spalding in his memo paints a future headed toward domination by China. Eventually, alternatives to its network technology won’t exist, because other suppliers won’t be able to compete with government-subsidized offerings from Huawei and fellow Chinese gear maker ZTE Corp., Spalding said.
Once China controls the market for internet-connected devices, it will be able “to weaponize cities,” Spalding said in the memo: “Think of self-driving cars that suddenly mow down unsuspecting pedestrians. Think of drones that fly into the intakes of airliners.” –Bloomberg
According to Spalding, the a network should be built within three years using technology which would monitor network devices and “isolate them from the adversary if they become infected.” The monitoring would rely on encryption as well as a secure supply chain, says Sapalding – as well as to “push Huawei and ZTE out of other democracies.”
In October, an Australian spy chielf – the director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate, said that his cyber experts had backed the government’s call in August to ban Huawei and ZTE from building the nation’s 5G network, calling them “high-risk vendors.”
“My advice was to exclude high-risk vendors from the entirety of evolving 5G networks,” said Mike Burgess, adding “the distinction between ‘core’ and ‘edge’ collapses in 5G networks. That means that a potential threat anywhere in the network will be a threat to the whole network.”
The next generation of telecommunications networks will be at the top of every country’s list of critical national infrastructure, he said.
“5G technology will underpin the communications that Australians rely on every day, from our health systems and the potential applications of remote surgery, to self-driving cars and through to the operation of our power and water supply,” Burgess said. “The stakes could not be higher.” –Naples Herald
Last year the wireless industry and US lawmakers protested Spalding’s plan for government regulation of 5G, with critics saying network construction should come from the private sector. Questions of course remain as to what portion of the network would be taxpayer funded and whether it would be owned by the government, a private consortium, or a hybrid of public and private entities.