There is an old saying that goes back to the original circus, the days of Sir Alec Guiness, John Le Carre and the circus (MI6). Those who do not know speak and those who do will not. There is however a valid issue with that mindset. When it is merely intelligence and what some regard as spyshit, we tend to not care. It is their world and they tend to live by other rules even as they have the same lack of common cyber sense as some US generals, it is their choice to make. Yet when we see labour people like Michael Danby need to present evidence in regards to “an opposition Labor party MP, called on the Liberal-National coalition to block Huawei and fellow Chinese telecoms company ZTE from supplying equipment for the 5G network. “Both Huawei and ZTE must report to the Communist party cell at the top of their organisations,” he told parliament. “Let me issue a clarion call to this parliament: Australia’s 5G network must not be sold to these telcos.”” I am actually in the mindset that his seat should be put up for auction if he does not disclose a proper setting and give evidence as to the reasoning of all this. It becomes more pressing when we see “Mr Lord, a former rear admiral in the Royal Australian Navy, told Australia’s state broadcaster on Monday that these claims were “wrong”, adding that Huawei was not owned by any committee of government and posed no risk to Australia’s security“. It is not just because Mr Lord is a former rear admiral, more that the average naval midshipman tends to be more reliable than any politician. We get this from the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/1a2d19ba-67b1-11e8-8cf3-0c230fa67aec). In addition, when we get politicians start the scare tactics of ‘critical infrastructure pose a risk to national security’, there is a clear need for both Duncan Lewis and Paul Symon AO to get hauled in a chair in Canberra and ask them to openly answer the questions regarding any evidence that Huawei is a security threat. To blatantly accept the US on their ‘china fears’ is all well and good for Telstra, yet the setting is not a given and the fact that Telstra is nowhere near the technological levels of Huawei is not something that we blame them from, but they basically lost the 5G war before it started through their own actions and inactions.
Now if there is an actual national security concern, we should be open about that and when that happens, and evidence is presented, at that point we can all relax and state to Huawei that we feel sorry for the inconvenience caused, but such concerns are just too big to ignore. I think we have had quite enough of these presentations that reek of Colin Powell and his silver suitcase with evidence that no one ever saw in 2001. We cannot go in that direction ever again. We will not be the play toy of greedy telecom companies and their internal needs for stupidity and inactions; we can no longer afford such a nepotism environment.
That same issue can be said regarding Nationals MP George Christensen. Apart from him trying to undo a business deal of a 99 year lease, no matter how silly that deal was, Australia cannot be perceived as a nation that cannot be trusted at the business table. My second issue is why a maroon (Queenslander) is involving himself with NT politics. In that regard, why do we not see the responses form Vicki O’Halloran is she has any, is she not the appointed administrator? In this, the game is not over. The Australian Financial Review gives us: “Huawei faces the likelihood that Cabinet’s national security committee will veto it supplying equipment for the 5G network, based on the recommendations of security agencies, over concerns about the potential for cyber espionage at the behest of China’s leaders“. In this the question becomes, is there an actual security concern, or is it that the national concern is the devaluation of Telstra? In additional support we need to see the Sydney Morning Herald two weeks ago when they gave us (at https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/how-a-huawei-5g-ban-is-about-more-than-espionage-20180614-p4zlhf.html): “The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported in March that there were serious concerns within the Turnbull government about Huawei’s potential role in 5G – a new wireless standard that could be up to 10 times as powerful as existing mobile services, and used to power internet connections for a range of consumer devices beyond phones“, as well as “the decision will have an impact on Australia’s $40 billion a year telecoms market – potentially hurting Telstra’s rivals“. the first part is something I wrote about for well over a year, the second one is important as we see ‘potentially hurting Telstra’s rivals‘, from my personal point of view it reads like the one lobotomised idiot in telecom country gets to decide through arm-twisting on how we need to remain backwards as they set the standard that they could not deliver for the longest of times (a little sarcasm regarding Telstra’s 2011 3.7G), I wrote about that recently.
ABC gave us yesterday: “it continues to be the target of criticism over its connections to the Chinese Government, including allegations it is involved in state-sponsored espionage“, yet the people have never been shown actual evidence, so where is that at? There might have been doubts to some degree for a while, but the Powell stunt is too clear in our minds and the USA does not have the credibility (or credit rating for that matter) it once had. The fact that the opposing former rear admiral of the Australian navy trumps two half bit politicians seeking the limelight any day of the week and some stay silent, the reason for that is only speculation, but we might not need to seek far and a few words ion Google Search might help find that answer (like ‘Telstra’ and ‘8000’). When we see some giving us: ‘Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX:TLS) is betting it all on 5G‘ and we see the Telstra strategy briefing (at https://www.telstra.com.au/content/dam/tcom/about-us/investors/pdf-e/2018-Strategy-Update.pdf), we see on page 6, Leading with 5G, that would never be an option with Huawei in play as they are ahead by a lot, so the presentation given a week ago, whilst we realise that the presentation was prepared way before that is giving the setting that Huawei is no longer considered to be competition, that is what we now face! What some might call a backward organisation proclaiming to be leading whilst 8000 men will be missing through inaction. That page is even more fun when you consider the quote ‘new technologies like IoT‘, which is funny when you consider that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices. It is not a technology; it is a network that enables technology. In addition, when you start nit-picking in that 34 page event, we see all the bells and whistles we need to see, yet when you consider consumers and small business (the millions of people that Telstra charges) starts at page 9 and gives us 5 slides. We see ‘cutting edge 5G capability’ (by whose standards?), we see location devices (with the image of a dog), Access to rewards an tickets, a fully-digital relationship with Telstra (an implied no more personal interaction after the sales, merely a chatbot) and value added services, yet the value of a service like customer service and customer care are absent in that part of the equation, so how does this push the people forward, because I doubt that it actually will achieve anything in the long run and one flaw will anger the actual consumers without limits.
You see, personally I believe in the IoT, I believe in 5G, they are tools to enhance experiences and interactions, not make them obsolete and that is what feel when I saw the Telstra strategy update. These two elements can enhance customer care, customer service and customer support, not replace them with ‘AI’ enhanced chatbots. So the moment we get a 2.0 version of ‘Telstra’s new chatbot, Codi, is making so many mistakes customers are furious’ (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/telstra-codi-bot-backlash-2018-3), chatbots can be a great asset to get the information and channel the call to the right person, yet that again is merely enhancing and that can work fine. The presentation implies the loss of actual customer values and ignoring their need for interactions. That in an aging population might be the least intelligent stance to make ever.
Yet this does not give way to the issue on Telstra versus Huawei, as the Sydney Morning Herald states “Telstra has refused to exclude Huawei from its 5G tender, but that is seen more as a way of keeping its existing supplier Ericsson on its toes“, as well as “In other words, a ban could be bad news for TPG, Vodafone and Optus. Whether it is necessarily good news for Telstra – which has its own issues at the moment – is less clear“. In finality we get “Intelligence agencies tend to get their way on matters like these“, this beckons the question what are they actually after? The US seems to be in bed with Samsung and their 5G routers, so it makes sense that this will be the path that Telstra walks as well, time will tell how it ends.
So why is this such a big deal?
We are currently in danger of actually falling behind Saudi Arabia, yes, that place in a large sandbox is about to surpass us in 5G and other technologies. They had the audacity to reserve half a trillion dollars toward Vision 2030 and Neom. So when we got “Al-Khobar in the Eastern Province, of Saudi Arabia, has become the first city in the region to benefit from the fifth-generation wireless network or 5G network, according to a press statement issued by the Center of International Communication“, last month. There was not a surprise in my bone. You see, this will drive their Vision 2030 plans even further. So as Saudi Arabia is now the new pond to grow speciality in 5G, app designers can promote, test and deliver on knowledge that will be available whilst Telstra is trying to figure out how to get 5G installed. with “All the necessary national 5G policies and supporting administrative provisions are planned to be in place before the end of 2019, along with the award of initial batches of the spectrum to support the full commercial deployment of 5G technologies“, we see that Saudi Arabia had been taking this serious for a much longer time. This goes a little further when we see ‘the Middle East and Africa 5G Technology market (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nigeria, and South Africa)‘, so at this point, Saudi Arabia has a head start to not just push Saudi Arabia forward, they have quite literally first dibs on gaining a chunk of the 98 million Egyptians. Not all can afford 5G, we get that, but those who do are confronted with only Saudi Arabia as a Muslim player, you did not actually believe that they would run to Vodafone, did you?
So back to the 5G local ‘market’! For this we need to take a look at the Australian Financial review 2 weeks ago. Here we see (at https://www.afr.com/opinion/columnists/the-technical-reasons-why-huawei-too-great-a-5g-risk-20180614-h11e3o), with the title ‘The technical reasons why Huawei is too great a 5G risk‘, the start is good, this is what we wanted. Yet we are treated to paragraphs of emotion and alleged settings. So when we see: “Huawei presents unique additional risk beyond the “normal” risk of buying complex equipment. China has demonstrated a long-standing intent to conduct cyber-espionage“, so is ‘intent’ shown in evidence? How did the CIA and NSA acquire our data or Cambridge Analytica for that matter? ‘China is thought to be behind data breaches‘ is merely a statement ‘thought‘ is speculation, not evidence. Then we get: “The US Trade Representative’s Section 301 report from March this year details the very close cooperation between the Third Department of China’s People’s Liberation Army (3PLA is a military hacking unit, also known as Unit 61398) and Chinese enterprises“, I have to get back to this. We are treated to ‘At one extreme, Huawei could be asked‘, is a case of fear mongering and not evidence. In addition we get ‘it is certainly a possibility‘ which came after ‘Vulnerabilities may already exist. This may not be the most likely possibility‘ as well as ‘very likely‘ all emotional responses, none of them evidence in any way, so the article with included in the title ‘The technical reasons’, has pretty much zero technology and close to 90% ‘allegedly’, speculations and emotional twists, whilst we cannot deny the optional existence of vulnerabilities, yet these are found regularly in Cisco hardware and Microsoft software, so have those two been banned in Australia?
Now to get back to the Section 301 report (at https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/Section%20301%20FINAL.PDF). It is 215 pages and I did not read that complete political US marketing behemoth. There is one that actually carries weight. On page 153 we see: “evidence from U.S. law enforcement and private sources indicates that the Chinese government has used cyber intrusions to serve its strategic economic objectives. Documented incidents of China’s cyber intrusions against U.S. commercial entities align closely with China’s industrial policy objectives. As the global economy has increased its dependence on information systems in recent years, cyber theft became one of China’s preferred methods of collecting commercial information because of its logistical advantages and plausible deniability“, which is basically good application of intelligence gathering. Please do not take my word for it, feel free to call the NSA (at +1-301-6886311, all their calls are recorded for training and quality purposes). Oh, and before I forget, the text came with footnote 970, which gave us “A number of public submissions provided to USTR state that the Chinese government has no reason to conduct cyber intrusions or commit cyber theft for commercial purposes, see CHINA GENERAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE [hereinafter “CGCC”], Submission, Section 301 Hearing 16 (Sept. 28, 2017); that the US has not provided evidence of such actions by China, that China is also a target of cyber-attacks, and that the two countries should work together“, there is that to deal with and is that not a rare instance where we are treated to ‘the US has not provided evidence of such actions‘, how many times have we seen claims like that since 2001? Would that number be a 4 or 5 digit number?
The point is not whether it can or could happen, the question becomes did it happen here? let’s not forget that in most settings the section 301 report is about US interests and their technological advancement (which they lost by becoming iteratively stupid). Here we have a different setting. In the setting we face Huawei has a technological advance over all we have in Australia and most of Europe as well. Huawei was one of the first to realise the power of data and 5G and they are close to a market leader, the US is basically relying on Samsung to get them there. BT (British Telecom) is on the ball, but still not on par. They are in bed with Finland “BT has teamed with Nokia to collaborate on the creation of 5G proof of concept trials, the development of emerging technology standards and equipment, and potential 5G use cases“, so this sets the larger players in a field where Nokia and Huawei are now active. The SAMENA Telecom Leaders Summit 2018 and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) announced today that it is working with Nokia to launch a 5G network in 2018 within Saudi Arabia, yet the technology agreements show that it does include Huawei and Cisco, so they aren’t already active, the setting for the initial bumps in the road that Cisco, Nokia and Huawei will surely overcome is knowledge that we will not have in Australia long after someone was able to connect the 5G router to a power point (very presentable, yet the online green light seems to be broken).
So whilst politicians are considering who to be buddies with, Saudi Arabia joins the US and they will be the first 5G providers, which means that the UK and Australia are lagging behind and optionally not for the short term either.
So am I not knowing or am I all knowing? I actually prefer the first, because it is more relaxing; yet the need to speak out loud is becoming increasingly important even if it was only to place the loud mouth limelight seeking politicians like Michael Danby and George Christensen in their slightly too arrogant place. They are of course welcome to present ACTUAL evidence proving me wrong. #WishingForAMiracleHere