Huawei in a White Box: Podcast


In this podcast, Richard and Shane talk about the Huawei dilemma described in our last post, Putting Huawei in a (White) Box. Some of the main points:

  • 5G’s principal advantage over legacy wireless networks is performance: this means more bandwidth, lower latency, and customization as 5G network slices can be tailored to the needs to multiple applications.
  • Relative to wired networks, 5G offers mobility as well as inexpensive coverage of sparsely population areas. While wireless networks will never match wired (especially fiber optic) network in raw bandwidth, they will offer more than enough capacity to support all applications other than aggregation.
  • 5G is essentially Wi-Fi on steroids, offering the same degree of meaningful capacity as well as indoor/outdoor coverage over bigger areas.
  • 5G is a threat to two groups of incumbents: 1) Policy wonks and firms who’ve hitched their wagons to nothing more than more and better wires; 2) Advocates of government-controlled networks.
  • We’re hearing a variety of objections to 5G from these two camps that don’t seem terribly credible. Health and safety concerns echo the fringe electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome movement’s claims that power lines make people sick. 5G emissions are very low power and very high frequency, hence there’s no known anatomical mechanism that would be harmed by  them. But mere facts have never mattered among these folks.
  • The security objections seem more substantial, but there’s an awful lot of handwaving around them. Europeans claim to have found backdoors into Huawei’s home routers, but the only evidence they offer is an open telnet port with a default password. This is thin gruel because default passwords are the way inexpensive devices deal with forgotten passwords. This isn’t a serious problem as long as the device isn’t directly accessible over the public Internet.
  • Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the major networks have joined forces to make sophisticated open source software available for use in 5G small cells. This software (the Open Compute Project) uses off-the-shelf hardware incorporating 5G radio and switching chips made by specialists such as Qualcomm and Broadcom, the same chips firms like Apple and the Android companies use.
  • While first-wave 5G small cells will rely on specialized switches, the second wave will use generic hardware and open source software. When the second wave hits the streets, the fears about the Chinese government taking over an import part of the telecom sector will become moot.

So stop worrying and get ready to be amazed.