5G won't fix America's terrible broadband

5G cellular networks are able to transmit data at very high speeds, with incredible spectrum sharing that allows multiple 5G towers to operate in close proximity without their transmissions clobbering one another. Read the rest

EFF publishes an indispensable, plain-language guide to "cell-site simulators": the surveillance devices that track you via your phone

In 2012, the Wall Street Journal first reported on a mysterious cellphone surveillance tool being used by law-enforcement; years later, we learned that the origin of this report was an obsessive jailhouse lawyer who didn't believe that the cops had caught him the way they said they had. Read the rest

Vodafone sources claim Huawei created a "backdoor" for its home routers and network switching equipment and then lied about removing it

Vodafone discovered that the home routers that Huawei provided for its Italian residential broadband business had a "backdoor" -- an open telnet interface that could allow attackers to take over the router and surveil the user's network -- and after they complained to Huawei about it, Huawei released an update that they claimed removed the interface, but that this was a lie. Read the rest

5G wireless may mess up weather forecasts

While 5G mobile networks promise to provide tremendous wireless speeds with low latency, they may also make it more difficult for meteorologists to provide weather forecasts. That's because 5G's neighboring frequencies are used by satellites that detect water vapor in the atmosphere, data that informs weather models used by meteorologists. From Nature:

Astronomers, meteorologists and other scientists have long worked to share the spectrum with other users, sometimes shifting to different frequencies to prevent conflicts. But “this is the first time we’ve seen a threat to what I’d call the crown jewels of our frequencies — the ones that we absolutely must defend come what may”, says Stephen English, a meteorologist at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK.

They include the 23.8-gigahertz frequency, at which water vapour in the atmosphere emits a faint signal. Satellites, such as the European MetOp probes, monitor energy radiating from Earth at this frequency to assess humidity in the atmosphere below — measurements that can be taken during the day or at night, even if clouds are present. Forecasters feed these data into models to predict how storms and other weather systems will develop in the coming hours and days.

But a 5G station transmitting at nearly the same frequency will produce a signal that looks much like that of water vapour. “We wouldn’t know that that signal is not completely natural,” says Gerth.

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Major vulnerability in 5G means that anyone with $500 worth of gear can spy on a wide area's mobile activity

Stingrays (AKA IMSI catchers) are a widespread class of surveillance devices that target cellular phones by impersonating cellular towers to them (they're also called "cell-site simulators"). Read the rest

America's cities sue FCC for handing billions in municipal subsidy to wireless carriers

The FCC has ordered American cities to hand discounted access to public resources for 5G access, and to operate a bureaucracy that rubberstamps applications to use city resources without delay. The FCC prices this subsidy at $2 billion. Read the rest

Trump administration is contemplating nationalizing the 5g infrastructure, but Ajit Pai is staunchly opposed

A leaked White House Powerpoint deck published by Axios reveals that some elements in the Trump administration are trying to sell a plan for the US government to build the nation's "5g" wireless infrastructure, hardened against Chinese surveillance and attacks, and then lease access to the private telcoms sector; the network architecture could then be reproduced and given to US allies to help them defend themselves against Chinese attacks. Read the rest