A group of 10 governments has endorsed a set of principles it hopes will underpin the development of secure and resilient 6G networks.

Nick Wood

February 27, 2024

2 Min Read

It is essentially a consensus-building exercise that provides the US and its allies with some handy reference material to use when the time inevitably comes to block telcos from using Huawei and ZTE kit in their 6G networks.

In addition to the US and UK, the backers are Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Japan, South Korea, and Sweden. This lot were never likely to give Chinese vendors the green light, but it may persuade any regional neighbours that might be on the fence to side with them.

Given that China isn't part of this club, it also makes it easier to imply it doesn't endorse these principles and therefore any 6G products originating from China are not to be trusted. Forget the fact it was probably never asked in the first place.

"By working together we can support open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, resilient, and secure connectivity," said a joint statement published on the White House Website.

There are no fewer than six principles, all along a similar theme.

The top one is all about how 6G should be part of a broader secure, trusted communications ecosystem that gives governments and partners the ability to safeguard national security.

This is followed by a recommendation that 6G technologies be secure-by-design, and developed by organisations that have systemic approaches to cybersecurity. 6G networks need to protect individual privacy, fail safely, and recover quickly too.

They might as well have called these two the 'Chinese vendor exclusion clauses'.

The next two principles relate to collaboration, conformity with internationally-agreed standards, and interoperability. All fairly rudimentary stuff.

The fifth principle refers to affordability and sustainability. In particular, 6G equipment should be repairable and recyclable, and able to bridge digital divides in order to make it accessible to developing nations. It should also contribute to other industries reducing their environmental impact.

The final principle touches on efficient use and sharing of spectrum, but its primary concern is supply chain resilience – ensuring a broad choice of vendors.

Again, this sort of requirement has been used by the likes of the US, UK and others as the basis for policies supporting the development of things like Open RAN, in a bid to increase the number of macro cellular networking suppliers that compete with Ericsson and Nokia without having to include Huawei and ZTE.

The group has declared its intention to adopt relevant policies to this end, and to encourage the adoption of such policies in third countries.

"We believe this to be an indispensable contribution towards building a more inclusive, sustainable, secure, and peaceful future for all, and call upon other governments, organisations, and stakeholders to join us in supporting and upholding these principles," they said.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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