Report: Government Inaction on 6G Risks Ceding More Tech Ground to China


A new report makes the national security case for overseas talent and increased research and development for a 6G infrastructure.

As the Biden administration looks to improve the nation’s telecommunications networks and expand access to internet services to reduce the digital divide in the U.S., industry analysts are recommending a slew of federal investments, including a nationwide 6G strategy and supporting infrastructure. 

A report published by researchers at the Center for a New American Security, framed within the rivalry between the U.S. and China over technological innovation and deployment, offered solutions to expedite and streamline the U.S. rollout of advanced 6G connectivity.

“It is time for tech-leading democracies to heed lessons from the 5G experience to prepare for what comes next, known as Beyond 5G technologies and 6G, the sixth generation of wireless,” the authors write. 

The report outlines a to-do list for the legislative branches of government. 

For the White House, the report encourages a formal 6G strategy to establish a roadmap for 6G deployment. Additionally, it advocates increased federal investment in the research and development of 6G technology, and establishing a working group focused on the plan for 6G deployment.

At the Congressional level, the report calls on lawmakers to designate the Department of Commerce as a member intelligence community.

“Closer ties to the IC will improve information-sharing on foreign technology policy developments, such as adversaries’ strategies for challenging the integrity of standard-setting institutions. This action will also integrate the Department of Commerce’s analytical expertise and understanding of private industry into the IC,” the report states. 

Other supporting tactics include allocating funds to ensure the rollout of 6G to vulnerable, underserved rural communities that have a historical lack of access to fast network capabilities, as well as attracting more foreign technologists to assist in 6G developments, specifically through extensions in the H-1B visa process. 

Researchers also advocate for the creation of new offices and programs within agencies like the Department of State, National Science Foundation, and White House to continue to support 6G network implementation. 

Although the nation has struggled over the years to secure a 5G rollout, analysts suggest that policymakers should focus on a faster 6G deployment.

“The United States cannot afford to be late to the game in understanding the implications of 6G network developments,” the report reads. “To articulate the best way forward, policymakers should heed the lessons of 5G rollouts—both specific technical developments and broader tech policy issues—and understand the scope of the 6G tool kit available to them.”

China in particular took this approach targeting a 6G infrastructure. In 2019, the Chinese government unveiled plans to launch new research and development efforts to deploy 6G after previously focusing on 5G technologies. 

Congress has taken some steps to set the stage for the U.S.’s 6G deployment. In the recently proposed Next Generation Telecommunications Act, a group of senators included provisions that would allocate public funds to support 6G advancements in urban areas.