CTIA, a membership organization of wireless carriers, device manufacturers, suppliers, and apps and content companies, has launched a security test bed for security testing and as a validation initiative dedicated to commercial 5G networks, according to the organization. CTIA said it created the security test bed in partnership with organizations in wireless communications and technology and in academia to test 5G security recommendations in real-world conditions using commercial-grade equipment and facilities.
“The 5G security test bed ‘s founding members — AT&T, Ericsson, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Mitre and the University of Maryland — contribute invaluable industry expertise that strengthens the security test bed ‘s ability to enhance the wireless security ecosystem and ensure strong protections on 5G networks,” a CTIA statement reads. “5G is the most secure generation of wireless technology, with enhanced protections built into it from the ground-up. The security test bed was created to build on this foundation, testing use cases, making recommendations and further bolstering 5G’s security to benefit consumers, enterprises and government.”
Governed by industry leaders, guided by government priorities and managed by CTIA, the test bed is the latest in a series of steps the industry has taken to make 5G the most secure network ever, CTIA said. It said the founding members developed the initiative through their participation in CTIA’s Cybersecurity Working Group, which convenes telecom and tech companies to assess and address the present and future of cybersecurity.
The security test bed primarily focuses on verifying the FCC’s Communications Security Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) VII recommendations for 5G networks, CTIA said. The security test bed will also serve as an industry resource for CSRIC VIII, focused on 5G security, which launched in June, and includes CTIA’s senior vice president and chief technology officer, Tom Sawanobori, among its members, the organization said.
“This initiative will complement and bolster the FCC’s 5G security efforts, validate its recommendations, and demonstrate 5G security features, with cross-industry groups working collaboratively to test use cases and products on an actual 5G network using real-world hardware and software,” said Sawanobori.
The test bed’s first configuration, built with Ericsson equipment, mirrors the initial setup for most 5G networks, CTIA said. A 5G radio access network is connected to a 4G core to create a 5G non-standalone (NSA) network, it said. According to CTIA, in 2022, the security test bed ‘s configuration will shift to a 5G standalone (SA) network using a 5G core, which will enable testing of 5G SA use cases.
CTIA said that the security test bed is in a secure lab facility at the University of Maryland, and that it uses personnel with extensive experience in wireless security. It said that Mitre, a not-for-profit research and development company, hosts the wireless core network in northern Virginia.
According to CTIA, the 5G security test bed’s evaluations and recommendations cover issue areas that will help transform cities, government and industries. Applications include autonomous vehicles, immersive augmented reality and virtual reality, automated factory operations and private 5G networks for enterprises, CTIA said.
A coalition of telecom industry associations – including NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, the CTIA, the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) and 5G Americas – recently sent a letter to Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, asking the Biden Administration not to further delay launching of the 5G C-band.
Last month, AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the launch of 5G on newly acquired C-band spectrum licenses for one month, until January 5, in response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s claim that the new C-band service could interfere with radio altimeters used in airplanes.
The coalition letter says,“Further delays in launching C-band could have serious consequences for our nation’s ability to leverage the economic growth associated with 5G, which is why we are asking that the Administration reject calls to hold up U.S. 5G C-band operations beyond January 5, 2022.”
Meanwhile, a prepared statement from NATE said: “For several years the Federal Aviation Administration has fought with the telecom industry and the FCC over the use of C-band spectrum…Further delays could inhibit our ability to leverage economic growth associated with 5G.”
In a blog titled “5G and Air Safety: the FAA’s False Choice,” CTIA president & CEO, Meredith Attwell Baker said “The truth is, we’re playing catch up. C-Band spectrum is already the backbone of 5G networks around the world because it offers the unique ability to provide high speeds over a wide coverage area, making sure no one gets left out of the new 5G Economy. In fact, today nearly 40 countries are using this spectrum, many for nearly three years.”
Mike Harrington is a contributing editor.
Wireless trade association CTIA announced that industry veteran and former FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker will take the reins of the trade group effective June 2. Baker will replace current CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent, who announced his retirement plans last October.
Baker had previously served as director of congressional affairs at CTIA between 1998 and 2000. She also served two years as a commissioner at the FCC from 2009 to 2011. After which, she joined Comcast’s Washington lobbying office.
Baker’s government service also includes a stint as Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and as Acting Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
Perhaps highlighting the slide CTIA has felt over the past several years, Baker noted plans to bring a new focus for the trade organization. “I plan to bring new ideas and new initiatives to the association that will take it from good to great. We will recruit and keep the best and brightest experts in spectrum and wireless communications,” Baker said. “CTIA must be the go-to organization on wireless issues for both industry and government.”