New Delhi: India with its vast population, thriving digital economy and technology use is poised to leverage transformative power of 5G, and in future 6G, to catapult itself to the forefront of digital innovation, US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti said on Tuesday.
Terming trust an “absolute necessity” when it comes to 5G, Garcetti said India and the US are committed to collaborating towards this. India with its G20 presidency this year cannot only drive deployment of trusted solutions and architecture among developing nations but, in the developed world too, become a vital part of supply chain to derisk the world.
Speaking at inaugural ceremony of US-India 5G and next generation networks workshop, Garcetti said the two nations through their shared values recognise that technology is not only about faster speeds or better connectivity, but also a gateway to progress, and reflection of development.
“India, with its vast population, its thriving digital economy, the use of technology that in some ways is leapfrogging other nations around the world, is poised to leverage the transformative power of 5G and 6G… to catapult itself to the forefront of the digital revolution,” the US Ambassador said at the workshop organised by the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
The shared vision of the two nations and their leaders is about digital economy built around transparency, and accountability to the people, the rule of law and the protection of basic rights.
“Those are things that bring us together and are in contrast to others who seek technology for other means. So to build that inclusive and digital future that nourish these values, we have to take into account security, trust, openness and interoperability from the beginning,” he said.
The US is seeking to support India and other nations in promoting the responsible global deployment of 5G and next generation networks.
He emphasised on need for trust and security in digital networks, especially 5G.
“We know it’s impossible to eliminate all security risks, but we can minimise the possibility that the architects who build the networks will abuse those networks to undermine its security, its confidentiality, integrity, and availability,” he said adding that the US and India are committed to collaborating on this mission.
Users too need to trust their networks since their most sensitive and personal information flows through them.
“…trust cannot exist if they’re compelled by authoritarian governments to disclose data with no realistic legal discourse or disclosure. So there are alternatives that we are working on together that include open and interoperable approaches and architectures…,” he said.
Technology used for good will drive economic progress, boost the health indicators, and strengthen security of the world and nations. The US-India relationship is not transactional but a “personal one”, with shared values, he added.
The vision of India and the US is not just about technological prowess, but values that undergrid them.
“India is in such wonderful hands… with your leadership, with the transformative policies that you and this administration are implementing, together from the public sector and with private sector, and with community aspect that defines everything that is part of India’s rise right now. This is the most exciting nexus in the world, the US-India relationship is where it is at,” Garcetti said.
The US National Security Advisor is in preparation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington DC next month and “collaborating intensely around critical emerging technologies, including the work that we are talking about here today”.
He stressed on importance of technology which connects, protects and detects, and described 5G as transformative.
Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman said India sees telecom as the biggest tool for economic and social inclusion. “So it is very important that the technology is harnessed for the benefit of the excluded,” Rajaraman said adding that over the past years, the Indian government has taken a slew of measures to ensure that tech benefit flow to the ‘bottom of pyramid’.
The launch of satellite broadband services will happen sometime next year, he said.
“So we already have a constellation of OneWeb and we have given the preliminary licences to them. We also have another licence from Jio platforms. We also have Starlink who is discussing with us. So we hope that next year we will have a fairly good robust network comprising all the three solutions to cater to every region of this country,” the DoT (Department of Telecom) secretary said.
Over the next months and years, technology will become affordable and converged for users.
“So it’s very essential that as we move up the technology chain that standards are ensured…this principle of affordability, inclusion, and at the same time move forward in the form of far greater capabilities and features…. So we believe that there’s a great opportunity for all of us, especially in India and the US to collaborate at international fora, including the ITU where all these standards are discussed…,” Rajaraman said.
Technology must offer solutions for billions of people across the planet and not just for a chosen few, he said adding that the lack of access to technology and connectivity across the world even today for 2.6 billion people in the digital era, is a “global shame”.
“…in this era of 5G and 6G, you can’t have this kind of numbers in this planet, and (it) also speaks very badly of how technology is deployed and how tech is purposed…and we are very conscious of that,” he said.
Pushing a collaborative approach, he said all countries must join hands and participate in building technology or “technology will never serve the purposes of all the sections of society across the world”.
Rajaraman mentioned various programmes of the government including saturation programme for covering 45,000 villages that are without connectivity. He said the government’s focus is both wireless and wired connectivity.
Bharat Net aims to reach to nearly six lakh villages over a period of time, he said and added that while fibre has already reached 200,000 villages, connectivity to rest 400,000 villages will be enabled in the next three years.
Rajaraman underlined the importance of working on global standards, as he exuded confidence that a lot of Indian companies will be able to work with US firms in rolling out solutions not just in India but the world.
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Policy reforms enable industry to deliver solutions at affordable cost, he said. The government has brought in a series of reforms in this regard, and while a lot of progress has been achieved, reforms are an ongoing process, he said.
He said Open RAN (Open Radio Access Network) is a platform that enables even small companies to innovate jointly with large companies. It will provide important element for the telecom network when it comes to 5G, and 6G in future.
“We have just a couple of weeks back launched Open RAN test bed, which is still in the first phase,” he said.
The US has evinced interest in Open RAN technology, he pointed out.
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