Huawei is the world leader when it comes to 5G equipment. The company’s move to expand into the West has rung alarm bells in the U.S. and Europe. The Trump administration has banned the use of its equipment in government departments citing security concerns.
However, the challenge posed by Huawei on an international level continues to exist. The company, which has deep links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is a serious threat to communication networks. To counter this, the American administration is encouraging the development of alternative solutions to its system.
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O-RAN and other solutions to Huawei
O-RAN started off in 2018 as an effort to make radio access networks more interoperable and transparent. Not only does it promise far more secure mobile communication as compared to existing 5G technologies, but it is also said to be faster.
The biggest benefit of O-RAN is that it will develop standards that will enable operators to purchase generic, cheap network hardware and run the developer’s software on it. By doing this, mobile operators can avoid buying specialized equipment and software packages from established vendors like Huawei, thereby completely bypassing the Chinese company.
In January this year, a group of U.S. Senators introduced legislation that requires mobile networking equipment to meet interoperability standards. The bill would allow mobile operators more freedom when it comes to building networks. The idea is not only to exclude Chinese providers from competing in the American market but also to ensure that domestic networking interfaces can harmoniously work together.
“The Commission shall establish a requirement, as part of the equipment authorization program of the Commission, to obtain a certification that advanced mobile network equipment is in compliance with O-RAN network architectures,” the bill read, as reported by NextGov.
Cloud-based O-RAN will ensure better user experience, efficient global supply chains, reduced capital expenditures, minimal operational expenditures from improved automation, and increased revenues from new forms of business models. In short, O-RAN will be able to create a simple transition path to 5G while also fully realizing the potential of the network.
There have also been suggestions for the U.S government to take a controlling stake in companies like Nokia or Ericsson, two firms that are in a position to compete with Huawei in 5G equipment technologies. The support of Washington, as well as the technical expertise of the companies, is expected to lead to the development of cheaper, better, and more secure 5G equipment.
However, a major roadblock to this solution is that European countries may not like their prized companies coming under American control. In fact, parties from Germany have already signaled displeasure at such an idea and proposed legislation against foreign takeovers of European 5G companies.
5G and coronavirus
American officials recently highlighted the possibility of an increasing backlash against 5G due to theories claiming that the technology was linked to the CCP coronavirus outbreak. The Department of Homeland security predicted acts of violence against telecommunication workers to keep increasing as the infection continues to spread. Some of the 5G towers in states like Oregon and Tennessee have already been attacked.
This trend is not limited to America. Incidences of attacks on towers have been reported in countries like New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, and so on. In the UK, where the theory started to gain traction by late March and early April, almost 70 cases of arson have been reported.