The UK and Japan have announced their intention to work together more closely on solving telecoms supply chain issues and developing new technologies such as 6G and OpenRAN.

The UK Minister for Digital Infrastructure Julia Lopez and Japan’s Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Yuji Sasaki (pictured above) met last week and agreed on some joint initiatives designed in part to ‘reduce the global over-reliance on a small number of suppliers to build and maintain telecoms networks.’

The agreement between the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) is apparently designed to encourage more information sharing between industry and academia and collaboration on R&D between the two countries. It also contains some nods to making the global telecoms market more diverse – presumably referring to OpenRAN.

“The UK and Japan share a track record of strong leadership and expertise on telecoms and we both recognise the need for a more diverse global telecoms market,” said UK Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez. “This partnership opens up important new avenues for our countries to work together to pursue our shared goal of a more secure, competitive and innovative telecoms supply chain.”

Japan’s Vice-Minister of Policy Coordination for International Affairs Yuji Sasaki added: “It is my great pleasure to announce the telecommunications cooperation framework between Japan and the UK which will promote vendor diversification, including for 5G. Our countries both recognise the importance of initiatives to secure telecommunication infrastructure supply chains. A secure, competitive and innovative supply chain is essential. Japan and the UK will pursue this together through this new framework.”

There may be distinct geographical issues that both the UK and Japan face when it comes to telecoms infrastructure – both are densely populated islands and strategies around deployment could be dictated by some of that. It’s unclear whether this has prompted the deal, or if this is more of a general type of agreement. If the latter, the two countries on their own would presumably struggle in solving supply chain issues since none of the main big kit vendors are from Japan or the UK, but perhaps at its most optimistic that’s just the sort of thing this deal is supposed to have a chance to change.

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