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Promoting Standards and Security for Next-Generation 5G Mobile Networks

April 12, 2018 AT&T Forum

Len Cali, Senior Vice President, AT&T Global Public Policy, hosted an in-depth discussion on global standards development and efforts needed to secure the nation’s 5G mobile networks.

The event included keynote remarks by Hank Kafka, Vice President, AT&T Access Architecture & Analytics and a panel of industry and policy experts who discussed global standard-setting initiatives and policies impacting security for next-generation 5G networks. Accompanying Presentation

Panel participants included Jeffrey Cichonski, Information Security Engineer, NIST; Brian Hendricks, Head of Policy & Government Relations, Americas Region, Nokia; John Marinho, Vice President, Technology & Cybersecurity, CTIA; and Rita Marty, Vice President, Security Architecture, AT&T.

Event Recap

Promoting Standards and Security for Next-Generation 5G Mobile Networks

April 12, 2018

Virtual reality, self-driving cars, and the massive Internet of Things (IoT) will depend on the development of global technical standards for 5G mobile networks.  Fortunately, the 5G standard-setting process has moved smoothly and, with the efforts of all stakeholders, has even accelerated to the point where 5G capabilities and equipment will be available in just a few short years, panelists explained during an AT&T Policy Forum event.

This week, the AT&T Policy Forum hosted another in-depth discussion, Promoting Standards and Security for Next-Generation 5G Mobile Networks, as part of our continuing commitment to bring together policymakers, academia, and industry.  Hank Kafka, Vice President, AT&T Access Architecture & Analytics, provided the event’s keynote remarks.  The Policy Forum event also featured a panel discussion of representatives from service providers, government agencies, and vendors addressing global standard-setting initiatives and, in particular, policies that affect security for next-generation 5G mobile networks.

In his keynote remarks, Mr. Kafka offered an overview of 5G and its new use cases – enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-reliability and ultra-low latency, and massive machine-to-machine communications.  Global standards provide for interoperability between networks, economies of scale that help lower costs, global roaming across the networks of different service providers, device portability, and forward compatibility.  Mr. Kafka also provided a bird’s eye view of the process for setting global standards, including the development of technical proposals, the activities of working groups, the drafting of proposals, and the process for arriving at consensus-based decisions.  For 5G mobile networks, the standards-setting bodies were able to reach key decisions in the spring of 2017 – and as a result, manufacturers of component parts have the instructions they need to start the roll-out of 5G-capable equipment.

Security is a “critical part” of the entire 5G standards process, Mr. Kafka explained.  Both cellular technology and the security environment have evolved in recent years, placing demands on developing global technical standards.  New service delivery models, the evolving threat landscape, an increased focus on privacy, and new trust models are driving security in the next-generation 5G mobile ecosystem.  These drivers are prompting the 5G standards-setting bodies to examine an array of built-in security measures, such as a unified authentication framework, increased use of home network control for authentication, re-authentication of devices through the Security Anchor Function (SEAF), and the use of the home network to encrypt subscriber identity.

Building on Mr. Kafka’s presentation, the expert panel initiated its discussion by addressing the public-private partnership in setting standards.  Mr. Jeffrey Cichonski, Information Security Engineer with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) emphasized how the private sector takes the lead role in developing technical standards in the United States.  Meeting the security challenge for 5G mobile networks is a key focus for service providers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders, the panelists agreed.  In fact, 5G stakeholders are engaged in a “persistent, ongoing, unrelenting effort” to make sure the technology meets the security challenges of today and in the future, explained Brian Hendricks, Head of Technology Policy & Government Relations at Nokia Corporation.  In addressing the role of U.S. Government in setting standards, Mr. John Marinho, Vice President of Technology & Cybersecurity at CTIA, stressed that it is “absolutely essential” that the U.S. Government is actively engaged in the global standards forum for 5G and working “side-by-side” with U.S. industry.

Next-generation 5G mobile networks promise a dazzling array of new services and features.  Developing sound global technical standards is a critical step to bringing these next-generation services into the marketplace.  At the Policy Forum, we look forward to continuing the discussion and helping all stakeholders explore – and ultimately resolve – any issues standing in the way of delivering this exciting new future to consumers.

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