Call for Ireland and Japan ‘digital dividend’ pact

16 Jan 2009

There has been a call for greater levels of co-operation between research teams in Ireland and teams in Japan to help both nations capture a lead in the next-communications wave.

The Bell Labs-backed Centre for Telecommunications Value-chain Research (CTVR) at Trinity College Dublin has already established links itself with Japanese technology giant, NEC.

 “Looking beyond more traditional relationships, high-tech research links between Ireland and Japan may allow both countries to take the driving seat in the creation of new communications technologies,” said Professor Donal O’Mahony, director, CTVR, who is a participant in the Enterprise Ireland trade mission to Japan this week, led by The Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD.

Speaking in Tokyo, Professor O’Mahony said there were opportunities for greater collaboration between teams in Ireland and Japan, particularly in the use of available radio-wave frequencies within the electromagnetic spectrum.

This would involve carrying out high-level experiments on new, potentially ground-breaking radio-based technologies in home broadband, mobile communications and other fields.

“Ireland and Japan have actually been at the forefront in using available frequencies to explore the possibilities of these new kinds of technologies. Ultimately, our aim is to help teams deliver the ‘digital dividend’ from the spectrum – the commercial benefits that will arise from new products in this area,” said Professor O’Mahony.

The CTVR has already set up partnerships with Japanese multinational firms. Early last year, it announced a research agreement with NEC Communication Systems, (NCOS), part of Japanese technology giant NEC Group.

The agreement was focused on research on the potential use of all-optical networks — communications networks based on optical fibres — to facilitate super-fast, lower -cost internet connections in the future.

“If we develop the necessary research leadership position, we will have the opportunity to influence the development of future radio-based communications, which could have significant benefits for the tech sector in Ireland and other countries in the vanguard of this effort,” Professor O’Mahony explained.

The CTVR was one of a number of Irish organisations represented at a seminar in Tokyo this week on ‘Ireland: Research, Development & Innovation’ organised jointly by IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.

Others that were represented included the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures & Nanodevices (CRANN); the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI); and the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI).

At the seminar, Dr Akira Arutaki, formerly associate senior vice-president, NEC Communications Systems, said: “We were able to work with the CTVR to put in place a meaningful collaboration in the area of optical networking. In the future, partnerships of this kind could have huge benefits for the economies of both Japan and Ireland.”

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years