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India and Finland to work on information and communications technology, including ‘6G’

India and Finland will be cooperating on research in information and communications technology (ICT), including ‘6G’ or the sixth generation of cellular data technology. The leaders of the two countries — India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin — held a virtual discussion on Tuesday, where they also announced a partnership over science, technology and education, among other areas.

In a joint statement, Modi and Marin said that the digital domain was a promising sector for India-Finland partnership. They will work on three key domains:

  • Future ICT: focusing on quantum technologies and computing
  • Future mobile technologies: focusing on 6G research and development
  • Future education: focusing on digital transformation of teach and learning.

“Essential and cross-cutting elements of all these key domains are the utilisation of artificial intelligence, cyber security and blockchain technologies. In this partnership, the companies and universities of both countries can leverage their strengths for mutual benefit.” — Joint statement by Indian and Finnish prime ministers

Curiously, while the term “5G” was entirely missing from the joint statement, both leaders discussed the potential for cooperation in 5G technologies, said Neeta Bhushan, joint secretary, Central Europe division in the Ministry of External Affairs in a media briefing, according to a PTI report. “Nokia is already working in the rural areas for expansion of 5G applications. Wipro and Tech Mahindra are working with Finnish companies and institutes for further collaboration and expansion of 5G and in the evolution of 6G technologies,” she said.

India’s partnership with Finland is the latest in the ICT space. It is currently working closely with the United States, Australia and Japan (all part of the Quad grouping) on critical and emerging technologies such as 5G. Last week, the Quad nations decided to form a working group for coordination on technology standards and conducting dialogue on the same. The alliance is largely considered an anti-China one, owing to fears of integrating 5G infra from Chinese companies into telecom infrastructure networks.

Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE, which are market leaders in 5G infrastructure, are feared to be close to the country’s military and intelligence agencies. Two of the four Quad countries — the US and Australia — have either banned or imposed significant restrictions on the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment. India, meanwhile, has signed a bilateral MoU with Japan for cooperation in the field of ICT.  Finland, India’s latest partner, is the home of Nokia, a competitor to Huawei and ZTE as a telecom equipment manufacturer.

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