Japan and Britain will cooperate in promoting a new communications network that does not rely on specific companies' infrastructure in the wake of China's increasing presence in the field, sources familiar with the case said Wednesday.
By using Open RAN, or Open Radio Access Network, which has industry-wide standards that enable its interoperability between multiple vendors' equipment for cellular wireless networks, the two countries aim to avoid a situation in which Huawei Technologies Co. and other Chinese players control the flow of information.
According to the sources, Japanese and British companies are expected to begin technology sharing in 2023. Major Japanese technology firms working to implement Open RAN include NEC Corp. and major mobile carrier NTT Docomo Inc.
Numerous instances in which Huawei Technologies and other foreign companies have complete control of important infrastructure including mobile phone base stations have become an economic security issue for Japan and other countries.
Open RAN technology also reduces the risks of cuts to the global supply chain, and is expected to lead to reduced costs for communication services via greater competition caused by weakening the hold of a few major companies.
Japan has already entered similar partnerships with Quad members the United States, Australia and India in May, and with Singapore in July.
As part of plans to share information with London, Tokyo intends for the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology to subcontract research and development on Open RAN networks to research facilities and private companies.
The NICT has already finished its recruitment process, and the successful contractors will be announced in 2023.
In addition to enhancing technological capabilities with Britain, Japan plans to expand international networks that aim to create safe and transparent infrastructure.
A successful rollout could also improve sales of Japanese companies' communications equipment.
On Dec. 7, Japan and Britain announced a digital partnership that includes commitments to cooperate in diversifying telecoms, ensuring stable supplies of semiconductors and toward responsible development and application of artificial intelligence.
In 2020, the British government said it would no longer allow the use of Huawei's technology 5G mobile communications network due to unresolved security concerns.
Later the same year, it signed a deal for Japan's NEC to support development of the network.