The recent G7 Summit in Hiroshima witnessed an intriguing development in the telecoms industry as Japan proposed collaboration on technologies that lie on the horizon — the Japanese are calling it 'Beyond 5G/6G'.
While the current 5G cellular network is still in its nascent stages, researchers and industry leaders are already setting their sights on the next generation of wireless communication – 6G – as previously discussed on IA.
However, what makes this new development of Beyond 5G/6G different is that this next level of technology – 7G – will be guided by global political decisions.
The technology of 7G builds on 6G — some of its features are discussed in this previous IA article.
The G7 Summit addressed the issue that technology is running so far ahead that it has the potential to undermine societies without proper oversight. It was interesting to see that the Japanese have taken a leadership role in this process both on a technical and a political level.
As a result, the G7 digital and tech ministers' discussed various political agendas aimed at shaping the future of the digital landscape.
These agendas included facilitating cross-border data flows, securing digital infrastructure, promoting responsible AI, enhancing internet governance, driving innovation with emerging technologies and addressing competition policy in the digital market.
The meeting resulted in the adoption of the 'G7 Digital and Tech Ministers' Declaration', which outlined key points and action plans for each agenda. Furthermore, an international framework for Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) was established, marking a significant step towards operationalising DFFT and facilitating global data exchange.
The meeting emphasised the importance of international cooperation and multi-stakeholder dialogue to ensure a sustainable and inclusive digital future.
Points from the "Declaration":
- The ministers endorsed the establishment of the Institutional and Arrangement for Partnership (IAP) and agreed upon the annex on G7 vision for operationalising the Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) and its priorities. This signifies a significant step towards enabling secure and trusted cross-border data flows.
- The G7 vision for the future network in the Beyond 5G/6G era was endorsed, highlighting the importance of openness and interoperability. The ministers also adopted the G7 action plan for building secure and resilient digital infrastructure, emphasising the need for robust cybersecurity measures.
- The ministers endorsed the G7 action plan for an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure internet. This emphasises the commitment to maintaining an inclusive and accessible digital environment.
- The participants emphasised the importance of ensuring the interoperability of digital infrastructure and developing countermeasures against software vulnerabilities in the digital supply chain. Additionally, they stressed the need for governance practices that foster innovative technological advancements.
- They also endorsed a G7 action plan for enhancing the global interoperability of AI governance. They agreed to convene G7 discussions on generative AI as soon as possible, highlighting the significance of responsible and ethical AI practices.
- The tech ministers agreed to share issues and challenges related to promoting digital competition. They discussed planning and implementing existing and new laws and regulatory tools, with plans to convene a digital competition summit in late 2023.
- During the meeting, an international framework with a permanent secretariat was agreed upon to facilitate DFFT. This development is the culmination of discussions that began at the 2019 G20 Osaka summit when Japan proposed DFFT. The establishment of this framework signifies a major milestone towards operationalising DFFT and promoting secure and trusted global data exchange.
The Beyond 5G/6G era signifies a new frontier in wireless communication.
As the telecom industry looks beyond 5G and 6G deployment, researchers and industry leaders are already working towards the development of 6G and the technologies that will shape it.
The outcomes of the G7 digital and tech ministers' meeting reflect this but, at the same time, make a commitment to actively shaping the future of digital technology and its governance.
The adoption of the 'G7 Digital and Tech Ministers' Declaration' and the establishment of an international framework for DFFT highlight the collective efforts of G7 nations.
Paul Budde is an Independent Australia columnist and managing director of Paul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBudde.
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