6G is more than 5G evolution
02. 02. 2022.
On the investigation and future of sixth generation information and communication technologies, and the potential of next generation mobile network technologies, prof. Dr. Charan Hassan, Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, spoke at the “6G – More than 5G Evolution” conference in mid-January. The main purpose of the event was to raise topics, start a discourse and support common thinking. The launch event, where eNET was represented, was organized by HTE’s radiocommunications department.
6G – also known as “Beyond 5G” – marks the next step in the generation of mobile networks: when it comes to negotiating, the future of content is much more important than the technical background. 6G represents a step forward in the professional culture rather than a technological innovation. Thus, what is more important in the topic is the vision that can be linked to development: what new areas of use can be exploited and what are the fields where the development of the mobile network points in further directions?
Generational change of mobile networks
It is slowly emerging that mobile networks are undergoing a generational shift roughly every 10 years, and this will lead to another transformation by 2030 – the foundation of this claim is supported by lectures, forums, or dissertations such as 6G Factsheet or Brooklyn Summit.
While the focus up to 4G was on serving individual users with the development of voice transmission and mobile internet, 5G technology has already brought about the change that is likely to take place during 6G developments: the emphasis will steer in the direction of enhanced mobile broadband internet services (eMMB) and industrial use. (mMTC, uRRLC).
By 2030, 125 billion devices are expected to be connected to the Internet, roughly 1 million connections per square kilometre that 5G will not be able to handle. In addition, the 5G does not provide outstandingly reliable and extremely high bandwidth to many devices at once. It is also not suitable for VR / AR applications, as this requires further reduction in latency. Optimal performance of telepresence (virtual meeting), and holographic (spatial image) display and communication requires performance enhancement too: data rates of Tbps (TeraBit / sec) and latency below msec are required for proper usability, which 5G cannot meet. The indoor coverage of the fifth-generation mobile network is not enough yet, so new solutions are needed.
In terms of the technical features of the 6G, it is not a purely radio technology that includes non-RF communication technologies (such as an optical network). It operates in the frequency band below 6 GHz, in mmWave (millimeter wavelength), in the terrahertz band – this refers to the band above 300 GHz. The data rate will range from 100 gigabits to 1 terrabit per second and the latency will be less than 1 millisecond. In this respect, the operating frequency and wavelength reduce the range of the access nodes to a minimum: for adequate coverage, they would need to be installed every 5-10 meters or less – but this requires significant investment. An alternative is to route the radio frequency through a glass cable, but this solution is less “mobile”. One of the goals of 6G research in the future is to resolve this.
The main features of 6G services are low latency (1), high reliability (2) in communication, and people-centered service (3) and multi-purpose use (4). Overall, therefore, the term B5G is more relevant, as it does not include a new feature, the primary goal is to increase performance.
6G – communication between everything
In terms of areas of application, more software-intensive uses, and the spread of data-based learning systems are coming to the fore – they may be of key importance in the development of autonomous transport or the spread of telemedicine. The biggest change predicted by 6G affects communicating parties: while 1G-4G has allowed communication between people, 5G has allowed communication between man and objects, the spread of 6G will allow communication between objects, things, and virtually everything.
In order to truly fulfil these commitments by 2030, further research is needed that points in several directions: on the one hand, further inquiry is needed about wireless connections, but further developments in devices and network technologies are also important. Besides, further exploration of potential services and areas of use is an important aspect of laying the groundwork for improvements. The complexity of the areas justifies the formation of complex project teams and the support of cooperation between different fields.
International and domestic initiatives for the development of 6G
There are already international and domestic initiatives related to the development of 6G. At the international level, these initiatives in the form of commitments, research, conferences and working groups, are typical of Asia (Japan, South Korea, China) and the United States. The European Union also supports this field. At the domestic level, it is important to mention Nokia’s 5G Research and Innovation Network in the field of BME – a private 5G platform created to support 5G RDI activities, the development of use cases.
There are also plans to expand coverage and build a millimetre-wavelength network. With these developments, BME’s mission is to support the creation of applications and developments based on B5G through interdisciplinary RDI activities to create the intelligent, sustainable, and people-centred society of the future. A key goal is to engage in international research based on the network already mentioned above.
Industry 5.0 concept and so much more
Priorities for B5G / 6G developments include the creation of a state-of-the-art test environment, the expansion of wireless network coverage, research into IoE (5) (“all Internet” / “all-inclusive Internet”) systems, high-resolution and real-time virtual communication technologies, and applications. Further priorities are research and establishment of solutions and systems for healthcare and smart city development and the advancement of the Industry 5.0 concept. In addition, the protection of personal data will of course remain an ongoing issue, which will also be an important task in the development of this technology.
Author: Anna Horváth, researcher-analyst colleague of eNet
(1) MBRLLC: Mobile Broadband Low Latency Communication
(2) mURLLC: Massive Ultra Reliable Low latency Communication
(3) HCS: Human-Centric Services
(4) MPS: Multi-Purpose Services
(5) Internet of Everything: Internet of Things és Internet of People