The Australian government’s Department of Home Affairs is searching for businesses to operate a new telecoms security laboratory for an initial period of two years. Their request for tender asks for the creation of a ‘secure G connectivity test lab’ that will…
…promote the security, resilience and diversity of emerging and future telecommunications technologies. The Test Lab aims to provide a commercially-neutral facility for industry to test the security and interoperability of the equipment, protocols, standards, and software that underpin 5G and emerging networks and technologies, such as Open Radio Access Networks (RAN). The Test Lab will also support network diversification by reducing barriers of entry for new providers to enter the market.
The intention to create such a lab was first announced in 2021. It reflects a trend where Western governments seek to reduce the downsides of competition on matters relating to national security and communications networks. Running a security lab on behalf of the whole nation means every network provider can expect to benefit from the identification and elimination of vulnerabilities surrounding new network technologies.
The Australian government was ahead of most others when they decided in 2018 to ban Chinese network manufacturers Huawei and ZTE from supplying equipment for 5G networks. China is an important trading partner for Australia but the emerging Cold War 2 between China and the Western powers has seen Australia increasingly define its national security priorities by seeking to contain and deter Chinese territorial expansion. There is a similar threat of expansion within cyberspace, which is why the need for enhanced network security now trumps the pursuit of unlimited competition between network operators and their suppliers.
Businesses wishing to respond to the request for tender must do so by August 14.