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Friday, 23 November 2018 11:28

ASD chief left red-faced after 5G network claims

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ASD chief left red-faced after 5G network claims Pixabay

Australian Signals Directorate chief Mike Burgess must be having at least a few bits of egg on his face after his bold statement last month, that there was no separation between the 5G radio access network and its core, was shot down in spectacular style on Wednesday.

Burying Burgess' claims was one of the companies that Australia has chosen to shun from its 5G networks, Huawei Technologies. Its New Zealand division, along with the NZ telco Spark, demonstrated the technical implementation of access and core separation.

The trial, in Auckland, used a Huawei 5G NR (New Radio on both the C-band and mmWave) and a 4G Radio Access Network, both of which were deployed by using dedicated hardware connected to the Cisco Evolved Packet Core, with each component isolated.

Burgess was quoted by The Australian in October as saying in what many dubbed a major speech: “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."

He is not the only one spreading this myth; The Wall Street Journal has done so too.

Of course, it is not uncommon to find spy agencies pushed to do the work of politicians. And it is easy for anyone with even average intelligence to understand that Burgess works at the prompting of his counterparts in the US.

But that he should be caught out so badly and so soon is not a good look.

iTWire sought to give the ASD a chance to explain the contradiction between what its boss had said in public and reality.

An email sent to the media minders on Thursday read thus:

"Huawei New Zealand and Spark have reported that they have conducted a 5G trial in which they used a core and access network from different vendors.

"From our report: 'The trial used a Huawei 5G NR (New Radio on both the C-band and mmWave) and a 4G Radio Access Network, both of which were deployed by using dedicated hardware connected to the Cisco Evolved Packet Core, with each component isolated.'

"Last month, ASD director Mike Burgess had claimed that it was not possible to separate the access and core in 5G networks.

"The Australian quoted him as saying: '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.'

"This seems to contradict what has been achieved in the New Zealand trial. I would appreciate knowing ASD's reaction to this."

Predictably, Burgess' office has remained silent. But then, when you claim that red is blue and it is demonstrated that red is just red, there is no convenient way to deny it.

At times, public servants are told to take out the trash, distribute it in public and ensure that people accept it. Burgess, I guess, drew the short straw this time.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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