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6G

China rails at foreign 6G partnerships

A Chinese research team has achieved a breakthrough with an impressive peak wireless speed of 206 Gbit/s in the Terahertz band, expected to be one of the core spectrum bands for 6G.

The little-known Zijinshan Laboratory in Nanjing ran the test, backed by China Mobile and several other labs. Tellingly, it announced the news last week at a local Communist Party event rather than in a research paper.

This only goes to remind us that the once obscure world of wireless lab trials is now a big deal in China. 6G is one of the half a dozen strategic technologies in which China has declared its ambitions to be a, if not the, world leader.

There's a good deal of official sensitivity over the topic, however, some of which surfaced in a Xinhua editorial last month that condemned the USA for forming "a small clique of allies in a frantic attempt to exclude and suppress China" from 6G development.

Specifically, it called out the Next G Alliance, the grouping of US carriers and big vendors including Qualcomm, Ericsson and Samsung.

"The United States has elaborately selected partners to push ahead with research on the superfast wireless technology in the hope of joining forces with allies to retard the development of Chinese communications products and reassume the dominance in the mobile communication industry," Xinhua thundered.

Stripping away the hyperbole, isn't that how technology competition works? People work with partners to develop technologies that will allow them to get ahead of their competitors.

There's certainly nothing to stop China forming its own technology alliances.

But more important, China has brought much of this on itself with its own heavy-handed approach to standards-setting.

As one member of China's National Standardization Management Committee, Dai Hong, has reportedly said, the setting of global technical standards "gives China's industry and standards the opportunity to surpass the world."


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There's some hard evidence for this aggressive approach. In 5G standards forums Chinese companies were expected to vote for the national champion on certain key technologies, most notoriously for Huawei's error correction tech that was vying with a rival Qualcomm proposal.

For the other countries standards-setting, while often fiercely competitive, is to ensure "interoperability, comparability, and compatibility between products," as this paper by Carnegie analysts puts it.

For China, standards are seen as a way of improving quality and raising international competitiveness, outcomes that non-socialist countries leave to the market.

Very few governments ever bother to issue a national strategy on standardization as China just has.

Among the items that might give foreign companies pause is funding for the creation of standardization research institutes and dozens of "standards innovation bases" according to the Carnegie paper. Additionally, it will offer subsidies and prizes for standards work, "creating incentives for the types of collusion and pressure campaigns" such as over 5G.

In other words, even more resources and activity aimed at global standards bodies, including those for 5G and 6G.

China might rail at foreigners for combining forces, but when its ambitions are set out in such stark terms it can hardly complain when others make their own arrangements.

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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