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Wow, a U.S. Ministry of 5G

This seemed to be the reaction this morning worldwide to the leaked alleged PowerPoint slides detailing the White House strategic options for a U.S. national 5G infrastructure. The gist of the slides has apparently been confirmed to Reuters by unnamed “Trump security team members.”

The options apparently range between creating a U.S. Ministry of 5G resembling the old world of government Post, Telegraph and Telecommunication (PTT) agencies of bygone years, and sawing off the U.S. ICT infrastructures and services from the rest of the world. The pretext is China-phobia; and apparently, global multilateral venues of cooperation would be chucked for bilateral bullying arrangements.

Underlying this shocker revelation is a substantial degree of profound cluelessness about the real world, but that never stopped U.S. administrations from exhibiting their ignorance in the past; certainly not the current one. Washington has been content imbibing its own delusional internet Kool-Aid for the past 20 years, so why should Trump be any different. Just be a more delusional episode!

So the scoop here is that in the real world over the past five years, most of the world’s major ICT companies have been busily working on a massive new global platform that enables the orchestration of network infrastructures on demand out of cloud data centres that goes by the unintelligible acronym NFV-SDN. The mobile radio access component is referred to as 5G.

Almost every company worldwide that matters has been engaged in virtually non-stop activities on a massive scale bringing about what is a development so compelling economically and as a collectively agreed global marketplace, that it has consumed significant resources of even the largest companies. The platform is poised to replace both the world’s existing largest communication infrastructure—the commercial mobile networks—as well as cable networks, enterprise networks and a gaggle of other networks and services commonly referred to as “the internet.”

So all of this has been occurring through constant large industry meetings all over the world within two principle umbrella bodies known as the NFV ISG (which coordinates about a dozen other bodies), and the 3GPP (which consists of 7 partner organizations and 20 component groups). Meanwhile, those intending to provide 5G access services have been busily negotiating spectrum licenses and allocation arrangements internationally via the ITU and domestically through regulatory bodies.

This massive effort also includes substantial activities in commercial company and institute R&D centres. The number of NFV related patents filed in every jurisdiction worldwide and scholarly published paper and conferences have all skyrocketed. Google Scholar finds 38,100 published NFV related papers. Google Patent finds 4,857 NFV related patents filed.

The national agencies of many countries have also been long participating in this work with varying levels of dedicated resources dealing with policies and national security. Needless to say, all of these activities have considerable arrays of “compliance obligation” activities embedded in the work, including cybersecurity, infrastructure protection, and supply chain management. Indeed, there are dedicated collaborative activities that in many cases meet almost weekly via international teleconferences. China and its major companies have wisely perceived the importance and scaled considerable resources to substantively participating across the entire spectrum of NFV-SDN/5G activities in almost every international industry body. China’s experts work alongside companies, agencies, colleagues from other nations in these efforts.

The national government most prominently oblivious to all these developments is the United States. Anyone with simple assessments of publicly available meeting records or scans of agency websites for policy documents can see the obliviousness. Almost no one from a U.S. government agency attends or participates in the constant, large-scale dialogue on everything related to security, services, and architectures except in two very-minor areas: network forensics and emergency services. Even at the most recent ITU meetings to discuss needed new treaty provisions, the official U.S. position (with a straight face) is that there are no “new trends” as it eschews any multilateral cooperation on the subject.

The reasons for the U.S. government being “asleep at the helm” are largely due to Washington constantly living in its own delusional internet-centric world oblivious to the reality that that world has never existed and is now rapidly disappearing. “Give up U.S. oversight of the Internet?” Just how obtuse does one have to be to believe that assertion… much less that it somehow matters.

So now we see that the same Administration has just discovered that there is something called 5G and it is faced only with apocalyptic options because it does not have a clue about the subject matter and failed to collectively engage in what is plainly the biggest global networking development of all time. The U.S. might want to first find out a little more about the subject and look at how to best engage with the rest of the network world before disparaging other nations for doing for what it itself has failed to do and flailing about to create a walled network nation. There is still time to collaborate with the outside world, including its closest allies, and there is certainly a lot the U.S. government can contribute.

By Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC

The author is a leader in many international cybersecurity bodies developing global standards and legal norms over many years.

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