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The 5G Race in Reno

The past week in the 5G world was notable because of some major events in Reno in the 5G race to roll out the full 5G specifications known as Release 16. A set of seven major concurrent industry standards meetings were hosted there over five days last week. The metrics are indicative of who really participates in and shapes the rapidly emerging 5G platforms.

The Reno entrants included 1911 registered industry technical experts from 231 different participating companies and organizations who worked through 12254 submissions from 165 of those entities to proceed toward the final initial specifications for Stand-Alone 5G products and services. These sets of 3GPP meetings on 5G occur about every 60 days with many smaller meetings on specialized 5G platforms in between. The 5G Mobile Edge Computing Group, as well as the Cybersecurity Technical Committee, were meeting the previous week in Sophia Antipolis, France, where other significant 5G platforms were considered. These are the hard-core technical venues where the “5G leaders” participate and collaborate on 5G.

If one counts registrants in the race, the Top Ten ranked as follows:

96 Samsung
89 Ericsson
83 Huawei
83 Nokia
72 Intel
63 Qualcomm
60 LG Electronics
58 China Mobile
46 Apple
44 Interdigital

Some U.S. government agencies actually managed to get a few people there. They included the DOD, CISA/FirstNet, NTIA, DOJ, and FCC. The real rubber meeting the road in the race, however, is measured by the number of input documents amongst those 12 thousand submissions. Those at the lead of the race were:

1517 Huawei
1305 Ericsson
1119 HiSilicon
936 Nokia
870 Nokia Shanghai Bell
682 Qualcomm
622 ZTE
456 Samsung
366 China Academy of Telecom
337 Intel
330 LG Electronics
264 MediaTek
226 vivo
217 China Mobile
197 OPPO
169 China Telecom
162 Apple
160 Sanechips
105 Motorola
90 Lenovo
79 Interdigital

HiSilicon is Huawei’s chip foundry and works jointly. Nokia and Nokia Shanghai Bell also work closely together. Amongst U.S. government agencies, CISA/FirstNet produced 12 submissions, and NIST had 2—all focused on NSEP requirements. On the cybersecurity side, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) proceeded to advance the key 5G virtualization security requirements.

The European Union, which is projected to be the 2nd largest 5G market after China, remains in the lead in dealing with 5G industry collaboration and network security. Its recently released NIS Cooperation Group Report on EU coordinated risk assessment of the cybersecurity of 5G networks” provides a best-of-breed, comprehensive overview of all the basics and is proceeding with rolling out 5G possible risk alleviating measures “toolbox.”

Meanwhile, Washington clowns around banning vendors—a clear violation of the public international law which U.S. itself established over many years. As TechCrunch notes in reporting on the current state of affairs, “business of 5G security will need to get commensurately large to scale to meet the multi-dimensional security challenge that goes hand in glove with the next-gen tech. “Just banning a single supplier isn’t going to cut it.” European authorities generally have both the knowledge base and the ability to act effectively—which the U.S. Government completely lacks.

The 5G world of virtualized networks and services is not a zero-sum game. The ultimate winners will be the providers who can enter, innovate, and thrive in the global market for those virtualized networks and services. They are the ultimate 5G value proposition, not the network boxes.

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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