India, Australia should work together on critical 6G technology: Barry O’Farrell

ET Telecom, August 17, 2022

Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’ Farrell Wednesday said that there is a need for India and Australia to work closely on emerging and critical 6G technology frameworks, and should co-operate in related areas like cyberspace.

There is a need for India and Australia to work together on framing an ethical regulatory framework on the emerging and critical 6G technology. He called the two countries as natural partners based on their shared democratic values, and facing common cyber threats from state and non-state cyber actors, Farrell said at an event by a consumer group.

Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) organised a conference on ‘Identifying Elements of Ethical and Regulatory Framework for 6G and Creating Opportunities for India Australia’, in partnership with Australian Risk Policy Institute (ARPI), and International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIIT-B).

Supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with logo support from India’s Department of Telecommunication (DoT), the day-long event was attended by more than 60 participants comprising representatives from the government, civil society organisations, and industry associations and academicians.

Recognising India as a leader in the Indo-Pacific region, the high commissioner re-emphasised Australia’s commitment to invest in and collaborate with India to develop its potential in the cyber-space. Apart from government-to-government interaction, he called for close collaboration between different stakeholders (civil society organisations, think tanks, industry etc.) from both countries to unlock opportunities in this regard.

The India-Australia partnership was also considered to be an imperative for ensuring an open, safe, and resilient cyber space in the Indo-Pacific region.

Abhay Shanker Verma, Deputy Director General (Mobile Technologies), Telecom Engineering Centre, DoT, said that India and Australia are already working together at the Quad level on relevant subject areas. He further traced India’s steps from being far behind and a mere adopter of international telecommunication standards at the time of 2G/ 3G, to now aspiring to become a contributor to the international 6G standards. He also mentioned that the DoT’s technology innovation group is currently preparing a vision document for 6G.

SP Kochhar, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) called for focussing on implementation of the India-Australia partnership on the subject, else the effort may remain an academic exercise. Thus, taking industry onboard from both countries assumes importance. He also emphasised the importance of focussing not just on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), but expanding it to include Electronics and Cyberspace as well, calling it ICTEC. He also cautioned against individual countries trying to establish country specific standards, which deviate from international standards, which could be detrimental for a global and interoperable 6G.

Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS, who moderated the session, said that the emerging 6G technology would be crucial in bolstering artificial intelligence, internet of things, blockchain and other advanced technologies.

However, he further said that the uptake and success of such technologies was stated to be dependent upon framing optimal regulations on privacy, cybersecurity, and consumer protection. Lastly, he suggested the India-Australia partnership to also focus on bolstering mobile manufacturing in India, and unlock opportunities for enabling trade and investment between the two countries.

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