According to Huawei, The Facts on 5G report from Ovum has found that – contrary to advice supplied by security agencies to the Turnbull Government last year – Core and Radio Access Networks (RAN) can and are being separated in 5G mobile network deployments across the world.
On mobile networks a Core network encrypts and secures user authentication and traffic across the entire network whist the RAN is responsible simply for transmitting encrypted data packets to handsets and modems.
Huawei employs 700 people locally and is the largest 4G vendor in the Australian market with over 50% of Australians receiving their communications via Huawei technology. Huawei has also built the largest private 4G network in the country in the Cooper Basin, South Australia.
Aside from the US, Australia is the only country to impose an outright ban on the use of Huawei equipment in its 5G rollout.
The Australian 5G ban on Huawei has had unintended knock-on effects in the local telecommunications industry. It is cited as a primary reason that the country’s fourth largest telco TPG scrapped plans to become the number four mobile network provider after investing heavily in Huawei equipment and 5G spectrum.
Last year the ASD informed the Turnbull Government that Core and RAN networks could not be split in a 5G network architecture and subsequently recommended that Chinese telcos – including Huawei and ZTE – should be prohibited from delivering 5G in Australia.
Based on this advice the Turnbull Government announced on August 23rd 2018 that it would ban Huawei and ZTE from participating in Australia’s 5G rollout.
However, The Facts on 5G report has found that not only can Core and RAN networks be separated successfully on 5G networks but that this has already taken place on several high-profile 5G network deployments globally.
The Ovum report follows on from the UK Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology commenting in its July 10th report to the UK Government that, ““Although the Australian Government has concluded that the distinction between ‘Core’ and ‘Non-Core’ networks will be less clear than for previous technology generations, we heard unanimously and clearly that a distinction between the ‘Core’ and ‘Non-Core’ parts will still exist.”
In its final report the UK Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology concluded that there were no technical reasons why Huawei should be banned from supplying 5G technology in the UK.
“The Core/RAN distinction is maintained in 5G. The basic security architecture of mobile communications, including Core/RAN separation, does not change in 5G,” said David Kennedy, Ovum Practice Leader, Asia Pacific.
“One powerful reason why Core/RAN separation has been maintained in 5G standards is to allow operators to integrate RAN from one vendor with core from another vendor.
“Globally, 26 commercial 5G network had been launched as of July 2019. Of those 26, a significant majority (17) were using Huawei RAN equipment, though not necessarily exclusively.
“However, the number using Huawei’s core network was only around half of this (9). The remainder had successfully integrated Huawei RAN with other vendors’ core technology.
“For example, In the United Kingdom, Vodafone and EE have announced they will use Huawei 5G RAN with other vendor’s core networks.”
“This report underlines once again the importance of ensuring constant dialogue between operators, vendors and governments around these 5G security issues,” said Andy Purdy, Chief Security Officer, Huawei Technologies.
“We are now seeing operators around the world deploying 5G with different vendors for the Core and RAN networks – this actually helps deliver a more secure network.
“Huawei is working with operators and regulators around the world – including our ongoing extensive work with the European Union – to deliver 5G in a safe and secure manner and is ready to talk with the Australian Government at any time.”