The UK's involvement in a new telecoms coalition aimed at strengthening critical national infrastructure has been hailed as a positive move for the industry.
The government announced this week that the UK has joined four international partners to form the Global Coalition on Telecommunications (GCOT).
As part of the move, participating nations will collaborate to steer the future of telecommunications, accelerate innovation within the field, and seek clear and coordinated action in key areas.
Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK, and the US will work together on topics such as the diversification of telecoms supply chains, future networking standards such as 6G, network security, and interoperability through Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) technologies.
A steering group of coalition representatives will meet twice per year, and individual partners within the group will be responsible for activities that will bring countries together on a more regular basis.
“The critical telecommunications issues of today are global in scope,” said Alan Davidson, assistant secretary of commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA administrator.
“This groundbreaking coalition will help the US and our partners respond decisively to cross-border opportunities and challenges. By working ever more closely together, the coalition members will advance secure, diverse, resilient, and innovative telecommunications networks around the world."
Make collaboration feel more effortless, which fuels better outcomes
Telecoms companies have faced a surge in attacks in Q1 2023, according to a recent Google Cloud report. Researchers connected state-sponsored threat actors with many attacks on telcos, and noted that firms in the sector were subject to 85% of the top 1,000 distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks across the period.
"The UK’s telephony sector is truly global in outlook, and international cooperation is vital to preserve security, tackle fraud, and maintain reliability,” said a spokesperson for Comms Council UK, a membership organization representing companies in the UK telecoms sector."
“It is important that more interaction on these issues takes place between governments to reflect the international nature of the sector. A global forum for an exchange of ideas and concerns is valuable, and CCUK looks forward to playing our part in it and supporting our industry."
State-sponsored attacks have increasingly targeted critical infrastructure including telecommunications networks in recent years. A government risk assessment released in August found cyber attacks pose a similar risk to medium-scale chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks, when it comes to UK national security.
Government intervention could hold telcos to new standards on issues such as upgrading legacy tech infrastructure, and improve international cyber security information sharing so that public and private security teams are better able to anticipate threats.
Telecoms coalition a "positive move" for UK sector
A spokesperson for the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) UK told ITPro that the formation of the coalition was a positive move for the sector.
“ISPA UK welcomes the Global Coalition on Telecommunications (GCOT) initiative as a helpful way to increase knowledge sharing and encourage greater diversity in supply chains,” they said.
“Telecoms is of major strategic importance when it comes to modern digital economies, making the formation of this coalition a step in the right direction for all countries involved.“
The UK government highlighted its commitment to the sector with a £70 million ($85 million) round of funding for its Future Telecoms Research Hubs.
In April, the government outlined a plan for £100 million of investment in areas such as these Research Hubs, and earlier in 2023 announced plans for the UK’s first 6G research facility at the University of Sheffield.
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In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn.