Friday, 06 August 2021 08:48

ACMA audit finds EME levels near 5G mobile base stations are very low Featured

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New measurements from the ACMA, conducted in early 2021, show that levels of electromagnetic energy (EME) at 5G enabled mobile base station sites across Victoria are very low.

The ACMA audit found that for all 129 mobile base stations tested, EME levels were found to be only a small percentage of the EME exposure limits set by ARPANSA for the public.

The results show that, for all sites measured, average EME levels in publicly-accessible areas were less than 1.5% of the ARPANSA limit – the majority of sites were under 1%.

The report is part of the ACMA's 5G and EME compliance program. The program assesses telcos’ compliance with the EME Standard for mobile base station deployments and was one of its compliance priorities for 2020–21.

The ACMA said, with a more expansive 5G rollout underway in Australia, compliance with the EME Standard for 5G enabled mobile base stations will continue to be an ACMA priority in 2021–22, including audits of sites in other states.

Find out more about the ACMA's EME compliance strategy here.

Now if the ACMA could similarly prove that the 1.0 to 1.5% ARPANSA EME limit doesn't result in people getting COVID-19.

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    Jonathan Jackson, director of engineering, APJ at BlackBerry continues a similar theme. "The enterprise is also moving to the edge. The rise in remote working and the swift march to cloud computing means corporate resources are brought outside the traditional network perimeter, and closer to the user and device. Everything, including data, apps, workflows, analytics, and decision-making, is being decentralised and moving to the edge."

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    According to Naresh Singh, research director, Gartner, "Gartner forecasts that the edge hardware infrastructure market will be worth US$17 billion globally by 2025. The corresponding software and services opportunities will be even higher. However we expect that by 2025, less than one-third of telcos will offer their own edge cloud compute services for customer applications. The others will tactically resell hyperscale partner offerings and miss out on revenue.

    "Telcos also need to carve a strong leadership position for themselves in this highly attractive market. If they can design a differentiated edge compute offering based around the low latency and highly contextualised offerings that they can provide due to their proximity to edge locations, and those that make sense for the kind of customers they already work with, they will do well. Such edge capabilities could include IoT platforms, smart personalisation, advanced virtual assistants, Edge AI, tokenisation, smart contracts, distributed cloud, advanced computer vision… The choice of opportunity should be on the basis of what makes sense for the kind of customers that CSPs already work with and those that can actually bring tangible business value to the table."

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    Stephen Gillies, technology evangelist at Fastly suggested that "The 'edge' has different meanings for different people. For a telco the 'edge' could be the mobile tower, as it identifies the hand off point between their networks and a customer device. For content providers and the vendors who support their delivery such as Fastly, the 'edge' is the Content Delivery Network - the hand off point between the streaming media application (often a browser or media player) and the consumer's device. So, edge computing can be confusing depending on who you talk to! Is it Web Application Edge or Networking Edge?"

    Vijay Kolli, regional vice president, enterprise security Asia-Pacific at Akamai Technologies essentially agreed with Gillies, offering, "The question telcos have to ask themselves is where the edge compute platform should be deployed - at the towers, the middle of the network or at the core. Where it should be deployed should be dependent on the popularity of the applications, and today we are seeing it to be at the core of the network."

    This suggests that the tower operators have a role here

    We almost felt as though both Kolli and Gillies were suggesting that small server rooms might be swinging half-way up the 4G and 5G towers!

    With something of a vested interest, Eric Watko, vice president, innovation product line management at American Tower broadly agreed. "The convergence of cell towers and edge computing is a natural progression of the next-generation network evolution. Utilising existing communications real estate, where connectivity already occurs, tower companies can develop edge data centres on a large scale very quickly. Today, we see small- and medium-sized enterprises using our edge facilities to optimise network elasticity—the ability to quickly scale computer processing, memory, and storage resources to meet changing demands.

    "We are also seeing hybrid approaches, where enterprises are using both edge and cloud-based services to gain the advantages of both models. The next phase of edge utilisation will be by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) when 5G and IoT applications are more widely adopted, as it will rely on a more distributed architecture to lower latency. Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) will be the driver of this future wireless ecosystem, leveraging shared Distributed Units (DUs) and Centralised Units (CUs), which our collocation Edge Data Centres are a great fit. Telecom companies are well-positioned to play a pivotal role in this shift."

    Co-operation

    Of course, with so many disparate players in the chain between our home and the iTWire web site, any successful play will require cooperation from many unrelated players.

    Singh suggests that "The most favoured approach to edge computing by telcos is to tie up with strategic cloud providers like AWS or Microsoft. A number of agreements have already been signed around the world including Australia. But if this is the only strategy, they are making a big mistake. It may turn out to be a hole that's very difficult to get out of, and only accentuate the perception of telcos as just network providers and not strategic digital enablers."

    "Let's not also forget that with successful deployment, there will be challenges around scale and security," Kolli reminds us. "Edge computing requires better delivery networks and infrastructure, as well as interoperability between mobile networks and enterprise applications. Securing information both vertically and horizontally will also have to be addressed. For telcos, this is an opportunity to partner with other IoT providers to secure endpoint access across a variety of use cases."

    The influence of 5G (and 6G?)

    "By marrying the benefits of edge computing with the speed (and growing adoption) of 5G, telcos have an opportunity here to value-add," says Kolli. "This is especially the case in industries that rely on real-time intelligence such as fleet management and the transport sector, or industries that depend heavily on the use of private networks, such as manufacturing or, mining."

    "With an ever-expanding open data world, connectivity is critical to pushing necessary real-time data feedback loops to understand customer experience. Telcos will, therefore, play a vital role in ensuring the seamless flow of communication and information exchange. When traveling from a rural location into the city, customers often complain about experiencing a massive difference between the two regions. This is a massive opportunity for telcos to support AgTech and Mining services with edge computing to those areas with unstable connectivity - this makes all the difference when companies are trying to drive customer retention."

    Jackson takes a similar view, observing that, "One of the most exciting arenas for the application of 5G-powered edge computing is connected and intelligent vehicles. As 5G networks mature, we look forward to seeing the enhanced operational, security, safety and personalisation outcomes possible, not only in the automotive sector but in all edge devices."

    Turning from the physical to the more abstract, Jackson continues… "Meanwhile, we are recognising the collaborative and scalable benefits of elastic workflows, which are enabled by the cloud. These capabilities will continue to be augmented by 5G on the edge. Moving workloads to the edge increases the bandwidth required, and telcos will be instrumental in creating the 5G fabric to support the hyper-scalability (and horsepower) required. The last 18+ months has shown us that we can deliver digital transformation and 5G will accelerate this further for a scalable, cloud-connected software platform that facilitates decisions on the edge."

    Of course, there's always a negative view! "Telcos are betting on their 5G networks, which they think will hand them the edge computing market on a platter," says Singh. "Hence, they are procrastinating over taking a more assertive role in this market for 5G services to be first operational."

    Which leads us to ponder…

    Counterpoint - are telcos the right people for the job, anymore?

    Taking a somewhat pessimistic view, Anton Kapela, co-founder & CEO for EdgeMicro suggests that "Telcos didn't retain the raw brilliance that many evolved to support - picking on ATT in 2021 versus the 1960s is like shooting fish in a barrel. As a case in point, ATT used to support primary systems research projects that led to the development of Multics, and all sorts of UNIX variants. With this work came oodles of then innovative, working code, and a host of counter-intuitive discoveries.

    "These developments lead to a more efficient way to use communications capacity than circuit-switching systems the industry had grown to accept up to that time. Maybe the "innovation streak" started with Bell Lab's 1947 discoveries in semiconductors that led to the production of cost-effective and useful transistors. Somewhere along the line, ATT and its brethren seem to have lost their way: we still have something of a Bell Labs doing great work, but we haven't had any "hits" like these in a while. Ones that do stand out, and which sadly haven't seen their due "time in the sun" yet include Gerard J. Foschini's amazing insights into spatial multiplexing for radio systems."

    Pointing to potential existential issues within the telcos, perhaps there's far too much of 'we've always done it that way.' Agrian suggests, "With all the transformation comes opportunity. We're at the forefront of 5G and with latency sensitivity at play, the data generated needs a processing home at the edge. But the rise in edge computing won't be the only critical success factor - telcos will need to consider challenging their identity crisis. The cost vs value creation issue has only been exacerbated by the latest digital shift, and in the decade ahead, we anticipate success will come to those who can transform in the most cost effective and synergistic manner possible."

    IoT

    Of course, no discussion of 'The Edge' is complete without IoT rearing it's ugly head.

    Kolli paints it like this; "With the world becoming increasingly mobile, telcos have first access to end-users and their IoT devices. This means that they can create opportunities for future application innovations. Historically, telcos charged OTT players for bandwidth rather than looking for ways to provide value. We're now seeing a shift in the industry as telcos are realising the benefits of being a part of an ecosystem. The faster speed of 5G and computing capabilities at endpoints mean that telcos can capitalize on this and be a part of an ecosystem that provide value-added real time services and innovations to businesses such as identity, location and low latency capabilities, enabling the OTT applications of the future."

    Similarly, Michael Ewald, director of technology, Contino offers, "The industry seems to think that 5G is enough to make the fully integrated IoT and Edge Computing infrastructure work. But it is not good enough - we need to think of 6G and telcos as an integral part of this ecosystem.

    Remembering, of course that the 'S' in IoT stands for 'Security.'

    So, where are the issues?

    Thus far, we've taken a relatively high-level view of the issue, but Gillies wants to remind us that there are some specific technical issues to contemplate as well. "Shared spectrum networking such as WIFI and traditionally high network latency last mile technologies like satellite can have a negative impact on edge computing performance; the incapacious component moves from how quickly a request can be assessed by a server running in a public cloud somewhere, to how quickly the network can provide the response from a CDN edge. Fastly's C@E instance startup time is microseconds, yet the latency introduced by some last mile networks is in the tens or hundreds of milliseconds.

    "Telcos are looking at finding appropriate last mile solutions which deliver the lowest possible latency, and minimising contention ratios around their networking nodes. But the end to end path of a web application or edge compute solution needs to be considered carefully to remove any potential bottlenecks."

    Perhaps it's a stuttering evolution

    Kapela wants to take the entire telco industry to task for losing their mojo.

    "While we do have some inclusion of MIMO in modern LTE and 5G NR, it's not the 40-odd layers he and his colleagues had working in the 1990s. We have Thomas L. Marzetta, who while at Bell Labs, essentially did the heavy-lifting of discovering how we might use wireless evenly, yet more efficiently, with his invention of 'Massive MIMO.' This sort of primary physical-layer communications research is hard - not just anyone likes to think in vector calculus. It's not the most accessible or sexy stuff to work on, compared to dot-com captivors and names like TikTok or Facebook. That's easy to get behind, but these are all simply applications that ride atop the stuff of the real, actual, physics of it all: the network. Without it, we'd have nothing like we have today in wireless, to be sure, but there's a problem: we still don't have even a sliver of what we should have received from these discoveries.

    "Why? Our wireless telcos (I'm looking at you, mobile network operators) don't know what they should be asking for. They trust their vendors (Ericsson, Nokia, et. al.) to take things "from the lab to the tower" - only the vendors really don't excel at picking winners, they excel at riding the economics of big-capital holders at said wireless networks to drive the equipment deployment and depreciation cycle, where we enjoy incremental improvements, sometimes anyway (ie. 2G to 3G, to LTE, and NR) - but we haven't gotten more efficient at the physical layers.

    "In 2001, EVDO rev A delivered a few megabits of usable capacity to one mobile station at a time. Today, 5GNR can deliver more in total, but, we're not seeing the gains that we do see in Massive-MIMO systems. We should be seeing orders of magnitude more spectrum efficiency, with all that we've figured out about how to best use radio resources. Instead, we're seeing GHz wide channels and MM-wave distracting nonsense bearing the "5G" banner, which isn't going to radically change the network landscape for anyone much, really. Maybe a small number of people who are a few hundred feet away from a MM wave base station.

    "What we should have seen instead: Massive MIMO deployments on sub-6GHz bands revolutionising the density and aggregate capacity of wireless systems. We should have seen the wireless network turn the economics of bit-hauling upside down. We shouldn't have to be connecting every last house up to GPON or DOCSIS on coax, in 2021. We should have had a wireless, efficient, fungible network future. We don't have that, but we could have it, maybe: telcos need to return to their roots and realise their initial priorities were good, market distractions be damned.

    "Embedding "more cloud stuff" (looking at you, ETSI MEC) in the "Telco edge" is not the sort of stuff that revolutionises or catalyses the global-scale internet cares about. Fundamentally, customers of telcos want to connect to the network with the greatest value: the internet. All parties involved need to accept this viewpoint, align with it, and run, not walk, to redoubling efforts in fundamental research and development of advancements towards deploying the stuff we've already developed and which we know can work. That's how we make our communications-centric future happen. Not any other way."

    Although with language a little milder, Singh agrees. "Telcos have been known to miss opportunities - cloud, unified communications and collaboration, for instance. If the same happens for edge computing, they will likely be pushed into gathering the spoils at the bottom of the value chain, stuck with an increasingly commoditised network and staffing play."

    Outroduction

    Bruce Lehrman, founder and CEO of Involta launches our wrap-up by observing that "Telecommunications providers will be just one link in the chain in a communications-centric future. Edge Computing is now a fully integrated and necessary part of any IT discussion. It's a fundamental part of meeting new demands for speed, latency, geographic reach and customer satisfaction. Strategic geographic locations for data centres will allow service providers to collect data at the edge. Computations can then be performed on that data and network assets can allow the distribution of that data in a meaningful way to businesses. Organisations across manufacturing, healthcare, and beyond are looking to leverage the most innovative opportunities across IoT, 5G, AI, and more. Those tools and applications thrive at the edge. We know that edge is the next growth engine. That makes the edge the place to be to drive the most value and ensure a competitive advantage, and it hinges on location, location, location."

    Most of our correspondents eventually found themselves taking a positive view of the increased telco involvement at the edge.

    Jackson: "Telcos will almost certainly become key players in the edge computing ecosystem. 5G networks will underpin the intelligent, connected future we are currently building - from IoT devices and connected cars, to smart cities and infrastructure. Those that bring this framework to market first will differentiate by providing new value in the marketplace."

    "Agiran: "As they look to what should be left behind - from ageing fixed line infrastructure and legacy IT systems, to the challenge of cost driven consumers and OTT player cherry picking - telcos will also be challenged to look at the future they're heading towards. Whether it's fully integrated vertical strategies targeting horizontal market capture, or the more conventional network-performance strategies, tailoring to each based on the telco's market position and company DNA ought to be a significant consideration as they look to ensure player importance."

    Singh: "Grabbing the full opportunity that edge computing offers is not possible without a role that goes beyond providing just the network. A more strategic approach does conflict with the business objectives of the cloud providers they partner with. Hence, they need to exercise tact and balance. The network, how much ever a commodity it has become, is still an advantage that a CSP has — as without that, none of the computing edge or cloud or the digital would be possible."

    Ranaweera: "Edge computing requires connectivity, more specifically, reliable connectivity to the Internet or centralised systems located in the public cloud. It's important to pick a telco with the right set of tools and connectivity offerings that provide a high level of resilience, availability and an effective support model for higher SLAs. Telcos will need to look at connectivity technologies that incorporate diverse media, support higher capacity and utilise diversified physical infrastructures layout to ensure higher uptimes. Technologies such as 5G allow greater levels of diversity and capacity which are the key ingredients for a successful edge computing architecture.

    Finally, tying up with a nice little bow, Ranaweera offers, "Provided telcos apply the correct technology stack and the approach at the right time at the right cost, they are well positioned in the market to benefit from the current trend of edge computing and become a key player in that market segment."

    What's that song lyric? "Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge…"

  • Fake news: News Corp claims Huawei pulling out of Australia

    One hates to be the bearer of bad news to News Corp's Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson, but her bombastic report on 10 October, which claimed Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies is pulling out of Australia, is wrong. Dead wrong.

    Dudley-Nicholson, the national technology editor for News Corp's Australian network, claimed: "One of China’s most powerful companies is pulling out of Australia, closing research labs, ending partnerships, and retrenching hundreds of employees among fresh claims it poses a national security risk."

    iTWire understands that there has been no recent change to Huawei's staffing or sponsorship, apart from what has been announced by the company over the years since Australia was strong-armed into boycotting it by the US. The last announcement was made about six months ago.

    And despite Dudley-Nicholson's claims that Huawei's business is falling off a cliff altogether, iTWire understands that the company's enterprise and solar divisions are pulling in the moolah, the pandemic notwithstanding.

    {loadposition sam08}Nothing that has happened to Huawei is new. Given that, exactly why Dudley-Nicholson has chosen to wrap together events of more than two years and try to paint them as recent is a mystery. Something like the Loch Ness monster. Or the Abominable Snowman.

    There are no "fresh claims" about Huawei being an alleged threat to national security; not unless calls 20-day-old claims fresh in the Internet age.

    fake news

    Those claims were made by Lithuanian officials – after a tiff with Beijing. According to The Guardian: "China demanded last month [August] that Lithuania withdraw its ambassador in Beijing and said it would recall its envoy to Vilnius, after Taiwan announced that its mission in Lithuania would be called the Taiwanese Representative Office."

    But Dudley-Nicholson did not provide this morsel of information; had she done so, then Lithuania's claims about Huawei — and also Xiaomi — would have been seen in context and her bid to spread FUD would have fizzled out, like the air escaping out of a balloon. And Lithuania's claims are in no way alarming; reports like this are seen every day on tech mailing lists.

    Lithuania's National Cyber Security Centre claimed that it had found security vulnerabilities in the Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G and the Huawei P40 5G.

    In the Xiaomi device, there were a list of phrases that could be censored – references to Taiwan's independence, head coverings, dissidents and China.

    But then Dudley-Nicholson defeated her own argument by writing that the blocking of these phrases would not happen in European models. Then why make a song and dance about it? Last time I looked, Lithuania was situated in Europe.

    The Huawei device was found to redirect users to a third-party app store if the app they were looking for was not available in the Huawei app store. Potential malware — what that means is up to the reader — was found on three of these third-party platforms.

    There is nothing unusual about malware being found on the Google PlayStore or Apple's AppStore. if it is reported, then the companies get rid of it and plug the gaps in their defences that let said malware in. The same applies to Huawei's app store. Then why the fuss?

    Dudley-Nicholson laid great emphasis on the fact that Sophie Monk was an ambassador for Huawei at a time when the company was doing well. Is it so unusual for a company to recruit a well-known female celebrity as a brand ambassador in a particular market? Under which rock has Dudley-Nicholson been living all these years?

    Or could it be that it is not kosher in Dudley-Nicholson's eyes for a Chinese firm to do so?

    The US has been waging a campaign against Huawei for a number of years, beginning in 2012 when a 66-page Congressional report found that the Chinese firm had methods of operation that differed from the American norm. I have a copy of that report.

    Huawei is not the first company that the Americans have gone after, once it proved to be a threat to that country's technological dominance. In the 1980s, the US went after Toshiba when it threatened to become top dog in the semiconductor business.

    And, more recently, the Americans took aim at the French company, Alstom.

    Dudley-Nicholson lists what she calls "Huawei 5G bans worldwide", but there are just five countries — Australia, New Zealand, India, the US and the UK — mentioned on that list as having banned the telco.

    But even part of that is incorrect. New Zealand has made no formal statement about a ban and India has not done so either. Dudley-Nicholson writes that UK phone carriers are no longer allowed to install new Huawei equipment in 5G networks, "though can maintain [sic] old hardware".

    This again is wrong. The UK decision is that it will stop using new Huawei 5G gear and remove old Huawei hardware by the end of 2027.

    To back up her claims, Dudley-Nicholson brought in Fergus Hanson from the defence lobby group Australian Strategic Policy Institute which parades itself as an independent think-tank.

    This is the same Hanson who, along with two others, produced a "study" which had as its central thesis the claim that only Russia and China try to interfere in elections in other countries. The US, the country that has meddled in more elections than any other, did not rate a mention. Suffice it to say that a person like Hanson has no credibility after such a shoddy piece of work.

    Another "expert" who was quoted was one Dr Lennon Chang a senior lecturer from Monash University. But his field of specialisation is criminology, not technology. There is, however, a common thread – he was a visiting fellow with ASPI in 2019.

    Next time Dudley-Nicholson sets out on a similar venture to smear someone or a company, it might be a good idea for her to check a few of her claims before rushing to publish. It's quite simple; there's a website called Google [or one called Bing or one called DuckDuckGo can be used as well] using which one can search to see whether what one is about to write is true. It might spare her some embarrassment.

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