Monday, 14 June 2021

Japan and Finland align for 6G development

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 10 June 21

Reports suggest that industry groups from both countries will conduct 6G research and development together, aiming to build an early lead in setting 6G standards

According to reports, various companies, industry groups, and universities from Finland and Japan have agreed to collaborate on the development of 6G technology, following the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries.  Notable in this agreement is Japan’s Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium and Finland’s 6G Flagship, both of whom represent significant stakeholders in the world of 6G…

According to reports, various companies, industry groups, and universities from Finland and Japan have agreed to collaborate on the development of 6G technology, following the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries. 

Notable in this agreement is Japan’s Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium and Finland’s 6G Flagship, both of whom represent significant stakeholders in the world of 6G. The Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium includes NTT, NTT DOCOMO, KDDI, SoftBank, Rakuten Mobile and the University of Tokyo, while Finland’s 6G Flagship is led by the University of Oulu, one of the first institutions to formally begin 6G research back in 2018.

Nokia will also reportedly take part in collaborating on 6G technology, with the Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium also involved in separate discussions with Cisco and Intel to potentially bring them into the partnership.

The agreement comes as both countries are trying to elevate their international position when it comes to wireless technologies. In particularly, Japan is keen to achieve a more dominant position in 6G than it currently enjoys with 5G; all Japanese companies combined hold just 6% of total 5G patents. In contrast, Samsung and Qualcomm each own around 10% of the total patents.

“Japan is a major global player in the development of wireless mobile technologies and it is in Finland’s interest to expand the cooperation to themes where mutual competitive advantage can be achieved for 6G development,” said Matti Latva-aho, Director of 6G Flagship. “The importance of the collaboration is underlined by Japan’s decision earlier this spring to invest $2 billion in the development of 6G technologies.”

Earlier this year, Japan made similar agreement with the US, pledging to jointly invest $4.5 billion into the development of 6G.

Much of the motivation here is due to the ongoing politicisation of communications technology, with the perceived tech race between the West and China clearly a major driving factor in these discussions. From Huawei controversy over national security to the ongoing semiconductor supply crisis, the West is increasingly concerned about their reliance on Chinese technology and is seeking to put themselves in the driver’s seat for future technologies. 

We are not only seeing this focus from Japan and the US, but Europe at large has been making steady commitments to 6G development since the start of the year. Back in February, the European Commission announced almost a billion euros in funding for upcoming 6G research and earlier this week the 5G infrastructure Association released a white paper called the ‘European Vision for the 6G Network Ecosystem’.

While 5G is still very much in its infancy, the race to 6G has undoubtedly already begun. Driven by political tensions, defining 6G standards is sure to be a key feather in the caps of various governments and organisations in the years to come.

 

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