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Telecommunication

Japan teams up with Finland on 6G development

NTT and Nokia enlisted to help set standards in race with China

Nokia will take part in the Japan-Finland joint research and development initiative for 6G communications technology.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Industry groups from Japan and Finland will conduct joint research and development of sixth-generation communications technology, looking to lead the creation of 6G standards in a field increasingly influenced by Chinese companies.

Finnish telecom supplier Nokia, a global leader in the industry, will join the effort.

Japan's Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium will sign the agreement soon with Finnish group 6G Flagship. The accord is to be announced Tuesday at the Global Digital Summit 2021, an event organized by Nikkei and Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The initiative follows a $4.5 billion commitment by Japan and the U.S. toward the development of next-generation communications technology, in a partnership announced in April. Extending the cooperation to "third-countries" to promote secure connectivity is seen helping in the competition with China to set global standards.

The Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium, which aims to commercialize 6G technology in the 2030s, includes the University of Tokyo along with major Japanese telecom players such as Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, NTT Docomo, KDDI, SoftBank Corp. and Rakuten Mobile. 6G Flagship is led by Finland's University of Oulu.

Members of the Japanese consortium will engage in joint research projects and personnel exchange. The group is in talks for future collaboration with an American counterpart that includes telecom supplier Cisco Systems and chipmaker Intel.

Shares of 5G patents owned by Japanese developers have fallen behind the likes of South Korea's Samsung Electronics and U.S. player Qualcomm. NTT Docomo holds about 6% of 5G patents, compared with roughly 10% for Qualcomm and China's Huawei Technologies.

The internal affairs ministry aims for Japan to command at least a 10% share in 6G patents together with a slice of 30% or more in equipment and software.

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