US Trailing China in Telco Tech, Needs to use 6G to Catch Up, White House Says

October 25, 2023

Written by Caio Castro
CATEGORY: Exclusives

“Telecommunications is a technology where, quite frankly, the United States today is often not a leader.”

Anne Neuberger, Deputy Assistant to US President Joe Biden, does not hide her concerns. Quite the opposite, she acknowledges the challenging position ahead.

“China is a global leader in telcos and telcos equipment because of the investments in R&D and heavy Chinese subsidies,” she said in an interview aired at the 6GSymposium Fall 2023. “China sees the tie between telecommunications as a tech, national security, and economic leadership.”

The numbers support her point. According to a joint survey conducted by Cyber Creative Institute and news media company Nikkei Asia, 40.3% of the 20,000 6G global patents belong to China. The US ranks second, with 35.2% of the filings.

Even though the report was published in 2021, it provides a good view of the polarised landscape and how China is a strong contender for mastering 6G technologies before everyone else.

Which is a scenario the US wants to counter. “We signed Memorandum of Understandings with a number of countries,” the White House advisor pointed out, highlighting the recent agreements with India, Finland, and Saudi Arabia.

“The president and various members of the administration have had meetings with allies during protocol visits that have brought 6G into the discussion. That has been very, very encouraging.”

In particular, Neuberger emphasised a joint effort between the White House and the US State Department. They brought together a group of countries and released a set of principles for 6G. “We are currently working to take those principles and release them in a more strategic document,” she added.

According to her, the document will focus on secure, open, and interoperable aspects as well as aspects of the technology, like new ways to make spectrum sharing more efficient and dynamic new surfaces.

FCC Under the Spotlight

In March 2023, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lost its authority to auction spectrum for the first time in 30 years. Congress must renew it, but the legislation body has yet to finish the process.

Not only should 5G spectrum auctions be impacted, but future 6G discussions can suffer from the uncertainty around the FCC. In August, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel noted that “with the World Radio Conference now only months away, it is vital that [the FCC] authority is reauthorised as soon as possible.”

Although Neuberger would not answer for Congress, she reassured that the White House is aware of the situation. “What I can say is that reinstating the FCC’s spectrum auction authority is an absolute priority of the administration,” she said. “We are working very closely with the Congress and the FCC in that direction.”

The featured image is an Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith

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