Wednesday, July 17, 2024

6G Technology: The Next Frontier in Wireless Communication

Dreaming of 6G use cases for 2030 and beyond

IMT-2030 application cases were discussed at 3GPP’s Stage workshop in Rotterdam last month. A varied set of vertical organisations and regional research alliances charged with advancing 6G technology were invited to discuss system design priorities, enabling technologies, and intended use cases.

For this blog post, let us summarise the 3-day workshop’s interesting conversations and match them with qualcomm 6G Technology platform vision. They were fortunate to attend. The next cellular generation, 6G, builds on 5G learning and technology. It will spur technologies that enable new and improved use cases in the coming decade.

Qualcomm is constructing the future by doing foundational research for 6G Technology and collaborating with ecosystem players to create a global technology platform.
Workshop information

Vertical and regional organisations discussed 6G goals, drivers, capabilities, and use cases daily. An overview of the three-day workshop and main presentations:

Day 1 (May 8, 2024): The first day focused on operators and verticals, with a panel discussion and GSMA and NGMN presentations from global carriers and service providers. The following vertical organizations 5GAA (automotive), 5G-ACIA (industrial), 5G-MAG (multimedia), GSOA (satellite), TCCA (public safety), and WBA presented on 6G’s prospects for respective industry.

The second day (May 9, 2024): featured talks from six regional research organizations/alliances B5GPC (Japan), 6G Forum (South Korea), IMT-2030 Promotion Group (China), Bharat 6G Alliance (India), 6G-SNS (Europe), and ATIS Next G Alliance (North America). These lectures covered 6G regional goals, innovations, and technology wish lists.

The Third day(may 10,2024):The workshop concluded with ITU-R and 3GPP presentations on their IMT-2030 plans and a concluding discussion.

After each session, discussion panels and Q&A followed. Three 3GPP technical standard groups (TSG) chairs, including their own Wanshi Chen (RAN chair), were on the final day’s panel.

6G objectives and drivers

Regional research alliances, vertical organisations, and mobile operators presented their most interesting 6G potential. They discuss how 6G, a worldwide standard, can build on 5G to alter society. The 6G innovation platform’s main goals and drivers for the next decade and beyond are:

The economy grows: 6G will open new revenue sources and enable many new devices, services, and deployments. While its impact is uncertain, it is expected to provide sustained global economic growth and drive industrial breakthroughs and transformations.

Technological progress: Innovation is ongoing, but commercialising fundamental technology discoveries efficiently requires a generational transition and a blank-slate design. 6G can coordinate ecosystem investments to bring the next big wireless technology leap, allowing enhanced communication, accurate sensing and localization, AI, and computation.

Cost-effective: Deploying 5G networks taught us that many new technologies are expensive to spread. Mobile operators are looking for solutions to lower their network TCO. Reduce network energy consumption to optimise operating cost, but a software-centric solution with network APIs can help mobile operators exploit their 5G investment to save capital.

Social equity: 6G will promote digital inclusion by enabling cost-effective technology to overcome the digital divide. New 6G technologies can improve quality of life by democratising healthcare, education, and public safety.

Ecological sustainability: Global 6G visions emphasise a greener future. This supports efficient 6G network operations (energy savings, eco-friendly deployment footprint) and more sustainable vertical businesses (smart transportation, precision agriculture, etc.).

Trust and dependability: Each generation of cells has prioritised security and privacy to increase dependability. 6G is expected to continue this tradition by merging quantum-safe communications and AI-driven security.

6G Technology capabilities and usage cases

6G technology is intended to advance system capabilities beyond communication. ITU-R’s IMT-2030 framework outlines important usage scenarios and performance indicators that should guide future wireless technology targets.

6G is expected to incorporate AI, advanced computing, system resilience, novel green technologies, and integrated sensing and communications (ISAC), bringing the physical-digital-virtual worlds together.

Diverse contributing presentations presented diverse 6G use cases, but qualcomm saw some apparent commonalities. The following list illustrates the key use cases presented in the workshop:

Immersive experiences: 6G will enable lightweight XR devices the same size as smartphones. Digitization of multimodal components (touch, smell, sight, taste), sensor fusion, and brain-computer interface can provide hyper-realistic experiences like holographic teleportation. Live and interactive immersive content creation and distribution are also priorities.

Digital twins: modelling a physical system in the digital domain can improve communications network efficiency and use cases. Along with rapid AI breakthroughs, 6G digital twins will improve security, privacy, predictive and prescriptive insights, and more.

Smart industry and robotics: 5G laid the groundwork for high-performance industrial IoT (e.g., URLLC, TSN), and 6G aims to unleash the full potential of next-generation robotics, including delivery, service, and autonomous and collaborative robots that can work with humans in this highly integrated and automated environment.

Fixed wireless access (FWA): 6G could revolutionise broadband. With new wide-area spectrum (e.g., upper mid-band), 6G can increase network capacity and cost-efficiency, covering urban, suburban, and rural areas and promoting inclusivity and connectedness.

Next-generation internet of things (IoT): 6G must handle low-complexity devices from the outset. From low-power, wide-area (LPWA) to ambient IoT devices (fueled by energy harvesting with/without storage), 6G is expected for healthcare, automotive, agricultural, and other vertical services.

Connected transport: 6G offers next-level safety and experiences. The 5GAA collaboration envisioned real-time environmental modelling, intelligent automated driving systems, and improved in-vehicle experiences with 6G capabilities like ISAC.

Critical communications: 6G will update mobile communications’ trust, reliability, and security. This is crucial for mission-critical use cases like public safety communications. 6G must use 5G learning and deployment to allow ubiquitous coverage and more.

Other 6G deployments and use cases: Many may use seamless multi-connectivity solutions to supply services across terrestrial and non-terrestrial communications. Of fact, the 6G technological cycle is just beginning. As they near these improvements, the future holds application cases beyond qualcomm imagination.

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