5G Technology Presents Opportunities, Challenges, and new funding in 2022
May 3, 2022
by Hills23 Consulting
Since the first commercial introduction of 1G wireless service in 1979’s Tokyo, Japan, Industry has improved and innovated five generations of subsequent modern data networks. In 2019 approximately fifty assorted nation-states, special administrative regions, and territories all reported commercial or experimental implementation of 5G technology. Now, in 2022, this progress has only grown. On April 6th, the DoD and National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences issued the “5G Challenge Preliminary Event: RAN Subsystem Interoperability,” which will award up to 3 million dollars to any “participants who submit hardware and/or software solutions for any […] 5G network subsystems.”
The 5G challenge highlights a key stakeholder in the 5G conversation: the military cybersecurity community. The military is excited and invested in the rollout of 5G technology and, as the challenge demonstrates, seeks, specifically, to identify solutions to security issues. Private and industry stakeholders continue to roll out 5G networks and technologies, and this kind of challenge makes room for opportunities and security concerns alike in cyberspace. Major American Mobile Carriers and ISPs are in the middle of their 5G rollouts already, but before we consider the innovations and concerns present in the emerging 5G space, let’s briefly review a modern history of data networks:
1g – First wireless mobile cellular networks initially released in Tokyo, Japan (1979); international roaming introduced; analog; limited to voice calls; low quality; costly; bulky devices.
2g – Digital; text messages and photo messaging; increased capacity, improved call quality, originally released in Finland (1991); smaller, more secure phones. Additional standards: TDMA, CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE…
3g – Pre-commercial release Japan (1998), commercial release South Korea (2001); video calling, mobile internet, and streaming, pay based on amount of data transferred, not time. Additional Standards: WDCMA – UMTS, HSPA-HSPA+ …
4g – LTE: Specs released (2005), deployed in Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden (2009); low latency, increased number of use cases: IP VoIP, 3D Television, Video Conferencing, HD Mobile TV. Additional Standards: IEEE 802.16, OFDMA – MIMO…
These early data networks paved the way for 5G technology. In early 2019 a Chinese doctor performed the first remote 5G medical procedure in the world. Similarly, 5G is poised to pave the way for new innovations that will make possible a smart, future oriented city, population, and military. A place with autonomous vehicles, 4K video streaming, a mesh of sensors spread across the city to help keep infrastructure safe, and other uses we can’t yet imagine. 5G’s collection of techniques includes beam forming, massive MIMO, and a move to smaller cell towers. These innovations will make 5G a more dynamic and expansive network, which will provided unparalleled and speed alongside risk.
5G will increase connection density (number of connections) and the kinds of devices able to connect. As for the Internet of Things, or things embedded with sensors (Wi-Fi oven? IoT. Home wireless printer? IoT.), there are few standards applied to these vulnerable attack surfaces. So, while the smart city of the future, densely knitted with sensors, can provide great information for city leaders, each one of those sensors is an attack vector. Similarly, existing weather satellites and airport operations rely upon frequencies soon to be shared by a veritable sea of devices and users on 5G. Concerning, too, are opportunities for surveillance in 5G networks. These challenges will not be solved tomorrow, but by rich private-public partnerships.
Initiatives like the 3-million-dollar challenge mentioned above will help stakeholders address some security questions, however, more research on the safety of 5G networks is required. 5G presents exciting opportunities for a safer and more effective battlefield, for a safer and more effective city, even. To achieve safety, though, we will need to increase professional and military cybersecurity standards, as well as the cyber hygiene of the public. Too, we should be aware of the ongoing fusion of the civilian and military EMS spaces and subsequent security implications. Further, 5G’s smaller cell towers will require collaboration between public and private partners, as well as a rethinking of the modern cityscape. As we all begin working toward the future of communication and togetherness, we must attend to the security concerns which remain unresolved. Hills23 Consulting is here to be part of that resolution.