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Global governments demand resilient and secure 6G

While most of the telecoms world is heads-down in Barcelona, the White House made an announcement setting out ‘key principles’ s for the next generation of telecoms. However, they didn’t do it alone.

The joint statement is backed by governments around the world, including the UK, Japan, South Korea, Australia, France and others. It sets out certain requirements for what they want to see in 6G. More than that, though, this is a real statement of intent:

“We hereby declare our intention to adopt relevant policies to this end in our countries, to encourage the adoption of such policies in third countries, and to advance research and development and standardization of 6G networks that fulfil the following shared principles.”

We’ll come to those principles in a second, but let that sink in. This is a statement of intent not just of policy formation in these countries, but to apply pressure elsewhere to get others to adopt similar policies.

Is this something that has happened before in any previous generation of technology? Not in this way. However, while conversation around 6G tends to orient itself around radio capabilities and networks, one of the big driving forces behind 6G was a new awareness of the critical systems supported by broadband; an awareness awakened by the COVID-19 pandemic, but which led many governments to support research into a new generation of telecoms which is more universally accessible, greener and supports societal ends. As a result, the concept of Key Value Indicators was developed.

While recent debates may have been diverted by what the telecoms sector knows best – spectrum availability, service delivery and so on – this is quite an assertion of the role which governments are determined to take in shaping the future of the industry. This isn’t just about technologies to solve telco problems, or even their customers’ problems, but also to address issues which governments and societies need.

What does this manifesto call for as the principles for 6G?

  • Trusted Technology that is Protective of National Security
  • Secure, Resilient, and Protective of Privacy
  • Global Industry-led and Inclusive Standard Setting & International Collaborations
  • Cooperation to Enable Open and Interoperable Innovation
  • Affordability, Sustainability, and Global Connectivity
  • Spectrum and Manufacturing – enabling resilient, sustainable supply chains

While some of these are clearly familiar elements to many telecoms discussions, the emphasis on national security, security and resilience is something which until now has tended to be a matter of lip-service from the telecoms sector. Yes, we want security, but it has tended to be a cost of doing business. However, as telecoms infrastructure and the digital lifestyle it enables has become more central to the wellbeing of billions, governments are stepping in to make sure that these elements are central to what 6G should be.

None of the list above needs to be a cost of doing business, per se. However, it will require different mindsets about the value that telecoms can bring and how we do business to turn them into sources of strength and growth. 6G World

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