Is it Huawei or the Highway?

Posted Posted in Technology

There’s been a lot of discussion lately around whether allowing Huawei telecommunications equipment into major infrastructure is a good idea or not.

Given the company has strong and proven ties to the Chinese military, I don’t think it is even unreasonable to have an honest discussion about the security implications of using their equipment.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/11/HuaweiCanada9.jpg/1280px-HuaweiCanada9.jpg

However, if we’re going to have such a discussion about their equipment, we should have the entire discussion.

An excellent example is the common HG659 modem/router, in use all over the world, including extensively in Australian premises as part of the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout.

The HG659 is an extremely popular modem with ISPs, because it is an extremely versatile modem.  It supports both ADSL and VDSL connections, and FTTP connections.  For this reason it is widely deployed in Australia as part of the “multi-technology mix” hodge-podge Malcolm Turnbull turned the NBN into for political reasons, rather than for technology reasons.

Australian ISPs using the HG659 therefore only have to stock one type of modem, and you as the end user just plug it into whatever NBN technology is serving your premises, and the modem self-configures to suit.

Done!

A great number of Australian ISPs use it – (and brand it with their own logos) – see a selection below:

ISPs in other countries also use it:

The use of the HG659 modem is widespread worldwide – including in jurisdictions where the lawmakers are seeking to ban the use of Huawei equipment in telecommunications systems, such as Australia and the United States.

I’ve even read of instances where one Australian ISP appears to have an active backdoor into their private customer’s networks, using the custom firmware in their supplied HG659 modems.

But why ban Huawei in the implementation of 5G networks, but happily welcome them into other significant network infrastructure?

One might argue that having a footprint inside millions of homes is a bigger concern than having them in mobile phone towers – (which can be and are actively monitored by the carriers operating them, and suspicious activity might be detected) – as the vast majority of home users get the modem from their ISP, plug it into the wall and never think about it again.

Monitoring?  Yeah, right.

I think the politicians are clearly – (as is often the case) – trying to make a political point without having any real understanding of what they are talking about.

Huawei may or may not present information or national security issues, but if you’re going to take a stand against them, you cannot and should not be so selective.

Ban them or don’t ban them – but just don’t half-ass your decision.

Further Reading:

Matthew Guy And His Pointless 110 Seconds

Posted Posted in Transport

With the Victorian state election due in November, we’re going to be bombarded with all the usual bluff and bluster about who can do the most for the state, and who is “better” for the state.

As per usual, we’ll be promised the world of promises, but end up with nothing when whoever wins discovers that they can’t afford to deliver them.

Because that’s what always happens.

An interesting one that has popped up so far is a thought bubble from current opposition leader Matthew Guy to restore the Princes Freeway between Corio and Werribee to a 110km/h speed zone.

Image Source: https://www.crikey.com.au/2017/08/11/leaked-transcript-of-lobster-with-a-mobster-dinner-the-lobster-cave/

On the surface, this seems like a good idea – get to work in the morning a little earlier, get home in the evening a little earlier. Move freight a little faster.

Trouble is, this thought bubble doesn’t seem to have materialised by way of much thought.

As someone who drives this section of road every morning to work, and every evening home again, I got to asking myself how much time would this change really save?

The Liberal Nationals team have consulted with the community in the Geelong region and the overwhelming feedback is to return the Princes Freeway from Werribee to the Corio intersection back to a 110 km/h speed limit.

The section of road in question between Werribee and the Corio intersection – (where the Geelong Ring Road begins) – is 34km long.

At 100km/h – (the current speed limit) – you are travelling at 27.7778 metres per second, meaning you cover the 34km in 1223 seconds – (34,000 metres / 27.7778) – or 20 minutes and 23 seconds.

At 110km/h – (Guy’s proposed new speed limit) – you are travelling at 30.5556 metres per second, meaning you cover the 34km in 1113 seconds – (34,000 metres / 30.5556) – or 18 minutes and 33 seconds.

So the difference between 100km/h and 110km/h over the section in question is:

  • 110 seconds, or;
  • 1 minute and 50 seconds, or;
  • Bugger all.

Presuming you travel each direction each day – (like most Geelong commuters) – you’re saving yourself a paltry 3 minutes and 40 seconds in your day.

Pretty pointless, right?

What would I do with 3 minutes and 40 seconds extra in my day? How much can I actually do with 220 seconds of my time?

Once again, bugger all.

How else could I make up this 3 minutes and 40 seconds if I really needed it?

Perhaps I could leave for work in the morning 3 minutes and 40 seconds earlier? Or do I go to bed 3 minutes and 40 seconds later at night?

Do I split the difference and leave 1 minute and 50 seconds earlier in the morning, and leave work 1 minute and 50 seconds later in the afternoon?

Fact is because I drive this road every day, I know for a fact that the people who want to travel at 110km/h are already doing it. If the limit is raised, now they’ll do 120km/h instead, leading to obvious safety concerns. Faster speed, longer stopping distances.

If you’re going to raise the speed limit for the sake of 220 seconds extra in your day, you’re not being sensible.

Like much of what comes out of the thought bubbles our politicians offer us, this just hasn’t been thought through very well – if at all.

It’s just a populist piece of thinking designed to attract a few extra votes.

It probably will, but in the end, it’s just pointless.