The long road to developing viable 56 networks was not without hype and perhaps in a few cases unresolved promises. At the recent 6G World Symposium, panelists said that while many of the specifics of defining and implementing 6G need to be ironed out, there is a level of agreement among stakeholders as to what the key issues are, and that progress can be made in resolving them during this decade.
Alain Mourad, Senior Director and Head of Future Wireless Europe Lab for InterDigital, believes a global vision is starting to emerge from key players on 6G. “How we get to 6G needs to be ironed out, but there is agreement on the challenges that face us.”
Matti Latva-aho, Director of 6G Flagship, said the road to 6G needs to take place in steps, with programs and initiatives starting at regional levels and then progressing to national and international levels. While he foresees a convergence of efforts eventually happening, he said one challenge would be balancing societal and business needs.
Those societal challenges, are, according to Rahim Tafazolli, Director of ICS and 6GIC at the University of Surrey in the UK, include the current digital divide and inclusion, privacy and security, and the dependability of future networks. Tafazolli added that 6G would need to integrate sensing and communications capability to create new multi-sensory apps and use cases, as well as utilize AI (artificial intelligence) to help automate some processes.
After some starts and stops, 5G networks are in the process of coming online. The panelists believe the lessons learned from developing and implementing 56 technologies will provide a framework on how to handle the challenges 6G will present.
InterDigital’s Mourad echoed a common sentiment among the panelists. “We see more people being cautious about 6G after all the 56 hype.” Mourad also believed that the process of getting to 6G will also weed out companies whose technologies may not prove as viable.
The role of the cloud could also be a factor in 6G development. Tafazoili asked, “How does the cloud tie into network design and architecture for 6G? Will this affect the design of devices and interfaces?” Mourad replied with the rapid development of the cloud and development of edge technologies, the cloud would need to be integrated into the 6G network infrastructure.
Spectrum sharing, a trend that began with 4G, will also be an issue as 6G is developed, according to Tafazolli. “There will be more pressure for satellites, terrestrial, and short-range services to compete for limited spectrum bandwidth. the ability to intelligently share spectrum will be important.”
6G Flagship’s Latva-Aho noted that spectrum sharing will require the development of improved transceivers as well as more efficient short-range 6G solutions.
Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News covering the electronics beat. He has many years of experience covering developments in components, semiconductors, subsystems, power, and other facets of electronics from both a business/supply-chain and technology perspective. He can be reached at [email protected]