6G research, Open RAN and semiconductors are among the main highlights of the US and India’s newly-strengthened strategic partnership.
In a joint statement last week, US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “technology will play the defining role” in the US-India Comprehensive Global and Strategic Partnership.
Under the agreement, the countries have committed to “promoting policies and adapting regulations that facilitate greater technology sharing, co-development, and co-production opportunities between US and Indian industry, government, and academic institutions.”
This includes two public-private task forces, one working on Open RAN, the other conducting R&D into 5G and 6G technologies. The Open RAN task force will conduct field trials and rollouts – including large-scale deployments – in both countries, with participation from operators and vendors from both markets. The 5G/6G task force will work together on common standards, facilitating access to chipsets for system development, and establishing joint R&D projects. Public-private cooperation between vendors and operators will be led by India’s Bharat 6G Alliance and the US Next G Alliance.
Meanwhile, securing a steady supply of semiconductors is towards the top of the agenda for most politicians these days, and Biden and Modi are no exception.
As such, the strategic partnership includes the Semiconductor Supply Chain and Innovation Partnership, an MoU that aims to coordinate their semiconductor incentive programmes.
“This will promote commercial opportunities, research, talent, and skill development,” they said.
To get the partnership off to a flyer, multiple US chip companies announced various multi-million dollar investments in India.
Micron Technology, which produces memory and storage chips, will spend $825 million on a new assembly and test facility in Gujarat. The Indian and Gujarat state governments are also chipping in, resulting in a combined investment that totals $2.75 billion. Construction of the 500,000 square-foot facility is due to begin this year with a view to coming online next year. It will create up to 5,000 direct, plus 15,000 indirect jobs. Similarly, Applied Materials, which supplies equipment, services and software to chip makers, said it will spend $400 million on a collaborative engineering centre in India, while Lam Research – which makes chip fabrication kit – said it will train no fewer than 60,000 new engineers in India.
The agreement also covers collaborative research into two of the tech industry’s other current favourites topics – AI and quantum computing. It will also promote stronger ties between the US and India’s private sector space industries.
Understandably, this strengthened pact is as much about politics as it is about technology. India has already joined the US in blocking Huawei and ZTE from 5G networks, opting instead to promote the development of homegrown 5G technology, on top of relying on the likes of Ericsson and Nokia.
In addition to a new defence pact – and some lip-service paid to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – the joint statement paid tribute to the participation of Indian companies in the FCC’s Rip and Replace Programme, which is designed to make it easier for operators and enterprises to remove Chinese kit from their networks. It also stressed the need to establish a bilateral framework that covers so-called ‘Trusted Network/Trusted Sources’, which effectively means ‘anyone but China’.
“This document, in its breadth and depth, represents the most expansive and comprehensive vision for progress in the history of our bilateral relationship,” said Biden and Modi. “Still, our ambitions are to reach ever greater heights, and we commit both our governments and our peoples to this endeavour, now and into the future.”
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