Study US underinvestment in 6G technology

Study: The United States is underinvesting in 6G technology

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The United States is lagging behind in promoting the next generation of communications technologies, according to a new study.

Much of the US government’s focus has been on 5G technology. The Department of Defense is investing more than $600 million in these capabilities as it prepares to integrate them into the military.

However, officials and other observers are also considering what comes next. In 2021, the Biden administration pledged to spend $2.5 billion on 6G, but a new report from the Center for a New American Security says it needs to do more.

“6G technologies will bring more than just improved data transmission speeds. Communications technology forms the conduit of societies, involving future economic competitiveness, military strength, and geopolitical influence,” said the report, “Edge Networks, Core Policy: Securing America’s 6G Future.”

Uncle Sam is in a long-term competition with China, he noted. 6G, like 5G, is a dual-use technology and will be part of Beijing’s military-civilian fusion strategy, according to the study.

Telecom companies in the country “will almost certainly be working with the Chinese defense industry on 6G pilot projects. U.S. policymakers should anticipate that China will be as ambitious with 6G as it has been with 5G,” he added.

“The case for developing a 6G policy, informed by lessons learned from 5G deployment, is clear,” the report said. “Delaying steps that other countries have already taken… will hurt American competitiveness and the primacy of technology. U.S. policymakers in the White House, Congress, and relevant departments and agencies should engage in proactive, assertive, and collaborative efforts to secure American leadership in next-generation wireless technologies.

The authors recommend that the US government take a number of steps to lay the foundation for the next generation of communications capabilities, including: developing a long-term strategy and roadmap; increase funding for research and development; explore opportunities for additional R&D funding through research grants, tax credits and financial support; establish more test beds; and the opening of additional experimental spectrum licenses to accelerate R&D efforts.

Policymakers should also: promote the development of new 6G use cases using federal government purchasing power; create a security fund and consider providing financial support and technical assistance to “strategic partners” for the deployment of secure and reliable 6G networks; and help create a “multilateral digital development bank” in partnership with export credit and export financing entities in allied countries, according to the report.

Topics: Battlefield Communications