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Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies


Recently, India and the United States have taken a significant step towards strengthening their strategic partnership and driving technology and defense cooperation. Under the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET), the two nations have unveiled a roadmap for enhanced collaboration in high-technology areas.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About iCET (India-US Technology Initiative)
  2. Progress Made So Far
  3. About OpenRAN Network Technology

About iCET (India-US Technology Initiative):

iCET is an initiative announced by India and the US in May 2022 and officially launched in January 2023. It is being led by the National Security Council of both countries.

Key Points:
  • Areas of Cooperation: Both countries have identified six areas of cooperation, starting with co-development and co-production. The scope of cooperation will gradually expand to QUAD, NATO, Europe, and the rest of the world.
  • Technology Sharing: India is willing to share its core technologies with the US, and it expects reciprocal technology sharing from Washington.
  • Addressing Regulatory Barriers: The initiative aims to address regulatory barriers, align export controls, and foster deeper cooperation in critical and emerging fields.
  • Focus on Critical and Emerging Technologies: iCET focuses on promoting collaboration in critical and emerging technology areas, including AI (Artificial Intelligence), quantum computing, semiconductors, and wireless telecommunication.
Focus Areas of the Initiative:
  • AI Research Agency Partnership: Collaboration in the field of AI research agencies.
  • Defense Industrial Cooperation: Cooperation in defense industrial and technological areas, including defense startups.
  • Innovation Ecosystems: Promoting innovation ecosystems and supporting entrepreneurial endeavors.
  • Semiconductor Ecosystem Development: Cooperation in the development of the semiconductor ecosystem.
  • Cooperation on Human Spaceflight: Collaborating on human spaceflight endeavors.
  • Advancement in 5G and 6G Technologies: Collaboration in the advancement of 5G and 6G technologies, as well as the adoption of OpenRAN network technology in India.

Progress Made So Far:

  • Quantum Coordination Mechanism: The establishment of the Quantum Coordination Mechanism signifies the collaboration between India and the U.S. in the field of quantum technologies.
  • Public-Private Dialogue on Telecommunication: The two countries have engaged in a public-private dialogue on telecommunication, indicating their commitment to fostering cooperation in this sector.
  • Exchanges on AI and Space: Important exchanges and discussions have taken place between India and the U.S. regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and space technologies, showcasing their shared interest in these emerging fields.
  • MoU on Semiconductor Supply Chain: A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed to establish a semiconductor supply chain. This highlights the joint efforts of both countries to enhance semiconductor manufacturing and supply.
  • Roadmap for Defense Industrial Cooperation: A roadmap for defense industrial cooperation has been concluded, outlining the strategic direction for collaboration in the defense sector between India and the U.S.
  • Mega Jet Engine Deal: The two countries are in the final stages of finalizing a mega jet engine deal, indicating progress in the area of aviation and aerospace cooperation.
  • India-U.S. Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X): The launch of the INDUS-X initiative is anticipated, which aims to accelerate defense-related activities and innovation between India and the U.S.
  • Strategic Trade Dialogue: The establishment of the Strategic Trade Dialogue signifies the commitment of both countries to address regulatory barriers and review export control norms, promoting smoother trade relations.

About OpenRAN Network Technology

  • OpenRAN Network Technology is a non-proprietary version of the Radio Access Network (RAN) system, which is a critical component of wireless telecommunications systems.
  • It enables the connection between individual devices and other parts of a network through a radio link.
Key Points:

Interoperability: OpenRAN allows for interoperability between cellular network equipment from different vendors. This means that network components from different manufacturers can work together seamlessly.

  • Open and Flexible Architecture: It creates a more open and flexible RAN architecture compared to traditional proprietary systems.
  • Open Interfaces and Virtualization: OpenRAN is based on open interfaces and virtualization, enabling greater customization and adaptability.
  • Industry Standards: It is supported by industry-wide standards, ensuring compatibility and promoting innovation.
  • Cost Reduction: OpenRAN can potentially reduce costs by introducing competition among vendors and avoiding vendor lock-in.
  • Increased Competition: With open interfaces, more vendors can enter the market, fostering increased competition.
  • Faster Innovation: OpenRAN promotes faster innovation by enabling the integration of new technologies and solutions.
  • Supporting 5G and 6G Networks: OpenRAN can be utilized to support the deployment and optimization of 5G and future 6G networks.
  • Network Performance and Security: It enhances network performance and security through improved flexibility and adaptability.
  • New Services and Capabilities: OpenRAN enables the introduction of new services and capabilities, such as network slicing and edge computing.
  • Bridging the Digital Divide: OpenRAN can play a role in bridging the digital divide by providing cost-effective and accessible network solutions, particularly in underserved areas.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023