Inquiry recommends Australia provide guidance on 5G supply chain risks and misinformation

Also recommends bringing manufacturing onshore to boost jobs

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts has recommended that producers of 5G equipment actively monitor their supply chains for security risks. The committee has also directed the Australian government to produce "strict guidance" on the issue. The recommendation was included in a report from the committee's inquiry into the deployment, adoption and application of 5G in Australia. The report was tabled on Tuesday, along with 13 other recommendations.

According to the report, "Throughout the inquiry, it was evident that 5G networks will have fundamental implications for all Australians, as well as the security of critical infrastructure.”

“Cyber supply chain risks in relation to 5G have the ability to impact upon consumers and national infrastructure in unprecedented ways," the report continued.

The committee also shared that it sees "great value" in having vendors manufacture onshore, citing the many economic benefits and jobs that doing so would create. The committee continued, stating that manufacturing partnerships with Australia's Five Eyes (Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) partners should also be considered. 

The report further recommends that the Australian government establish a 5G R&D Innovation Fund to “fast track the development and scale-up of alternative manufacturing approaches to reduce the duopoly dependency on 5G related equipment.”

During its hearings, the committee also heard from various anti-5G groups. These groups have vastly misrepresented 5G tech, claiming that exposure to it would result in health issues for many.  

"Unfortunately, a vast amount of misinformation about the safety and impact of 5G is out there," committee chair Dr. David Gillespie said.

"Perhaps some confusion comes from the new spectrum bands 5G will use. The committee heard that 'higher frequency does not mean higher power', and that, in fact, devices will operate at a lower power due to focussing the 5G signal only to where it is required and the increased number of antennae, which means that users will have less exposure than under previous generations of mobile technology."

Just last year, the Australian government committed to spending AU$9 million ($5.8 million) across four years. The spend aims to fight misinformation about 5G and build public confidence in the technology. 

Other recommendations made by the committee called for the Australian government to work with 5G carriers to increase equipment sharing. The committee has also asked that the government increase the number of apprenticeships in relation to the deployment of 5G technology while also ensuring that university and TAFE graduates are 5G "industry-ready" upon graduation.

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