The battle for 6G has already started: Marcal Sanmarti comments on the incipient struggle for supremacy in the next round of the digital technology development competition.

AuthorSanmarti, Marcal

China and especially its local tech champion Huawei have been the winners in the battle for 5G dominance. Huawei's competitors from Europe (Nokia, Ericsson), Japan (NTT, NEC), America (AT&T, Qualcomm) or South Korea (Samsung, LG) already understand that they are competing now for the silver medal. The debate in New Zealand has been intense on the use of Chinese 5G and the pressures from the United States have been notorious on all Western countries. In fact, New Zealand might end up being the only Five Eyes country using Huawei 5G technology in the near future.

The reason offered to the public focuses on how Huawei could provide private information from its 5G network users to the Chinese government. But certainly there are also other reasons behind this ban. It is at the same time a Western tool of pressure in regard to the current situations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea and the current trade wars between China and some Western countries, such as Australia and the United States.

A less known thing is that the battle to lead the substitute of 5G technology, 6G technology, has already started, several years ago. China, the United States and Finland have been doing research since 2018. Current estimations are that this technology could be around us by 2030. It would be a hundred times faster. If 5G has made possible automated cars, 6G has the potential to make possible flying cars, massive drone surveillance and even connecting our bodies and brains to the internet. The technology is mostly conceptual at this point, but the international competition to master it is already fierce. (1)

Since the beginning of time information and communications have been vital for security. Cryptography, the use of codes and ciphers to protect secrets, began thousands of years ago. Today it is a question not merely of technological supremacy, but also of information sovereignty. Information access and ownership in this day and age have become a battlefield. We have seen clashes not only between the United States, Russia and China but also even between the United States and the European Union as well. Since countries developing 6G first could become automatic leaders of the upcoming digital world, it is also a matter of national security.

Security concerns

Chinese and Huawei 5G dominance have demonstrated to the world how important is to be independent when it comes to digital technology development. National security depends on countries having full control of their digital network. The internet of things makes it possible to go beyond the internet of people and the internet of servers connected to a digital network. More and more cars, roads, hospitals, power plants and even farms are online as a means of making them more effective and productive. As the Waikato DHB cyber-attack/ransom demand is showing to New Zealanders, cyber-terrorists can control the skeleton of a whole country; so could a foreign country with a hacking army of a few hundred people. North Korea is a good example. Despite being impoverished and isolated, its cyber army has raked in billions of dollars for the regime through schemes ranging from ATM heists to crypto-currency thefts. (2)

It is no surprise then that several countries are already in the race for 6G supremacy. China started research into 6G in 2018 and plans to launch it around 2029. On 6 November 2020, using a Long March 6...

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