We Need to Be Honest About 6G

Article By : Michel Corriou

Before talking about 6G, the industry must be honest and recognize that 5G is still in its infancy.

Before talking about 6G, the industry must be honest and recognize that 5G is still in its infancy.

Only 5G-NR is commercially available and deployed today, and the transformation process is ongoing on core network solutions. The reality is that the 5G technology currently deployed or announced to be deployed in the short term is far from the initial 5G targets set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency: to address new massive IoT and critical communication use cases for the industry and the services on a single infrastructure, with new actors in the value chain and new business models.

The link with 6G? Every new mobile service generation is discussed at the ITU to establish a vision, and because 5G was finally introduced in two steps, we have been unable to clearly explain its main benefits to citizens and consumers. By the way, let’s be clear: 5G systems best serve B2B (for the industry and the services) and not B2C (consumers).

The ITU with Network 2030 Focus Group has already identified some key targets that the United Nations wants to address for the digital society and networks of 2030. Some use cases were already partially addressed by 5G, such as tactile internet for remote operations (the real-time control of remote infrastructure, applicable to Industry 4.0 as well as to telemedicine) and digital twins (the real-time representation of a physical entity in the digital world; see artwin-project.eu).

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Other use cases are new, such as holographic-type communication for 3D object modeling, compression, and transport over mobile networks. The Covid-19 crisis has also demonstrated the need for safe, scalable, and reliable network infrastructure. Consequently, Network 2030 has put an emphasis on the emergency and disaster rescue use case to cope with multiple emergency situations.

6G Image: Shutterstock

The process to specify 6G will still be long and will not take place at 3GPP before 2023.

In the meantime, the scientific community and technology providers are exploring the technologies on which 6G should be built. Certainly, artificial intelligence is a key and promising technology in the field of resource allocation in the Radio Access Network, as well as attack detection and remediation. The network architecture also needs to be adapted.

For example, at the recent EuCNC and 6G Summit, b<>com presented the potential of security as a service and AI to foster distributed and autonomic management of security for network slices. For the air interface, there are also opportunities for new spectrum allocation in the millimeter-wave and terahertz-frequency ranges, with larger available bandwidths but also a limited propagation distance, so there will be a need to select the right use cases.

b<>com is a partner in one Beyond 5G H2020 project (MONB5G, led by the Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya and Eurecom), focused on the distributed management of network slices in Beyond 5G, and one 6G flagship project (HEXA-X, led by Nokia and Ericsson), with the vision to connect human, physical, and digital worlds and in which b<>com addresses key issues related to network resilience and sustainability. In those projects, b<>com is working on new algorithms and proofs of concept to pave the way for the future private network 6G solution that it will provide.

But we have to be honest about 6G: There is still a long way to go, and we should keep in mind the Network 2030 targets, which make it human-centric.

This article was originally published on EE Times Europe.

Michel Corriou is director of operations at b-com.


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