Huawei Ban Spreads as 5G Network Approaches Rollout

Trade constraints interfere with mobilization of 5G network platform due to concerns of espionage, semiconductor sales and backdoor security risks.

Trade Restrictions

The political strain between the United States and China has been in the public eye for decades.  Each country is essentially fighting for leadership in GDP, by creating the best technical equipment, network performance and sustainable markets.  Restricting the flow of commers between these countries will create a slow down for technological innovation.  Matthew Schwartz from NPR states, “The U.S. believes the Chinese tech giant would be using their equipment to spy on American nationalists and withhold intelligence information.”  Banning Huawei equipment from the U.K. will pause the 5G Network rollout and reverse the progress from the last fifteen years.  After the recent ban of Huawei equipment, there is to be a massive overhaul in removing existing equipment, mainly semiconductors, from the U.K.’s infrastructure.  To counter, there have been orders for risk assessments on Huawei equipment, to possibly find a compromise.  The effects of the U.K. Huawei equipment ban are enormous, costing jobs, technical slowdowns and billions lost to reorganization.  By banning Huawei equipment, the U.K. will weaken its own networks and will interfere with business operations, as the rebuild is taking place.  U.S. trade restrictions to Huawei have made the U.K. uncertain as to where Huawei will be sourcing its semiconductors, creating a higher security risk for its telecom infrastructure.

Semiconductor Industry

Over the past three decades semiconductors have elevated in value ranging in the hundreds of billions per year.  The SIA states,

The U.S. semiconductor industry has continued to maintain its global leadership position in semiconductor technologies essential for the future, including artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and advanced wireless networks such as 5G.  The U.S. semiconductor industry has also maintained its global market share leadership, even though worldwide year-over-year sales growth in 2019 was negative, and has kept steady its very high levels of investment in research and development (R&D) and capital expenditure (capex).

The SIA is pushing for more Research and Development funding for the U.S. to remain a technological juggernaut, now and in the future.  The sale of semiconductors can give insight to the health of an economy by increasing its GDP.  As a top manufacturer of semiconductors, the U.S. has been recognized as the leading technological innovator and the largest economy in the world.  Unfortunately, during the last few months the U.S. economy has taken a deep (32.9%) dive, due to the pandemic of COVID-19.

Backdoor Security

One of the many allegations concerning the US and Huawei is the issue of creating products with backdoor mechanisms.  A backdoor can be written into the program by the creator and never be disclosed to the consumer.  Ultimately, a backdoor can give the creator access to the administrator’s credentials and steal valuable data.  This can pose a huge security risk with products coming from an outside source.  Huawei has claimed that their company would never introduce backdoors into their equipment and jeopardize their entire company.  The U.S. has concerns that these backdoors can be introduced into our infrastructure and Huawei would have to turn over intellectual property to the Chinese government on demand.  At this point there has been no evidence of backdoors being introduced into Huawei equipment.  These allegations are prompted because Huawei and its partners needed more time in development to remove a diagnostic function.  CNet reports, “No evidence that Huawei kit might be used for surveillance has ever been found, although UK intelligence agency GCHQ has complained that the company has been slow to patch flaws.”  Huawei claims they have a real time public notification system in place to identify vulnerabilities and work quickly to find patches for their equipment.  If Huawei had introduced backdoors there would be a huge media scandal and the company would have flopped.  These concerns are valid when dealing with extremely sensitive information among nations that do not always see eye to eye.  The Huawei conglomerate is highly scrutinized and facing trade restrictions, but will that be enough to thwart the giant?

 

Huawei Mate 20X 5G flickr photo by Janitors shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license