The Brooklyn 5G Summit has been convening annually for many years but this year transitioned to 6G. While there is still some research involving 5G advanced, most of the work and emphasis is now focused on 6G. Most experts agreed that 6G will start initial rollouts in about 2028 with 2030 being the time frame of significant deployments (standardization phase 1 will likely start from 2026 as part of 3GPP Release 20). Professor Rappaport said the 6G will benefit from densification that will happen in 5G with transceivers being deployed closer together. This is because 6G is likely to use higher frequencies, in the low hundreds of GHz range, which do not propagate as far as current frequencies but benefit from extremely wide bandwidths and actually can lower the power per bit for connectivity.
The biggest innovation in 6G is likely to be in the use of sensing with the same signals used for communications. At these higher frequencies, the wave can precisely position objects, sense their shape, distance and speed, determine composition, etc. According to the experts at the Summit, “we don’t know the exact applications yet, but this certainly opens many areas of opportunities for future services. We will connect the physical world to our own human world, thanks to the massive scale deployment of sensors and artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) with digital twin models and real-time synchronous updates. These digital twin models are crucial because they allow us to analyze what's happening in the physical world, simulate possible outcomes, anticipate needs and then take productive actions back into the physical world.”
Here is the progression of cellular generations:
“We’ve identified research vectors that will cause disruption for 6G, but each one of these areas will already have early precursors in 5G-Advanced, and there will be important evolutions that we can ride on in terms of network waves,” says Peter Vetter, President of Bell Labs Core Research, Nokia. Nokia Bell Labs has identified six technology areas that will characterize 6G.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning: AI/ML will go from an enhancement to a foundation by taking a clean slate approach, where we do away with the complexity, and let AI/ML figure out how to best communicate between two endpoints.
- Spectrum bands –The new pioneer spectrum blocks for 6G are expected to be at mid-bands 7 to 20 GHz for urban outdoor cells enabling higher capacity through extreme MIMO, low bands 460 to 694 MHz for extreme coverage and sub-THz for peak data rates exceeding 100 Gbps.
- Network sensing – Such a mode of sensing can help create a “mirror” or digital twin of the physical world in combination with other sensing modalities, thereby extending our senses to every point the network touches. Combining this information with AI/ML will provide new insights from the physical world, making the network more cognitive.
- Extreme connectivity – Expect use cases with networks that have specific requirements in sub-networks, creating networks of networks with networks as an endpoint. Machine area networks such as a car area network or a body area network can have hundreds of sensors over an area of less than 100 meters.
- New network architectures – 5G is the first system designed to operate in the enterprise/industrial environment, replacing wired connectivity. As the demand and strain on the network rises, industries will require even more advanced architectures that can support increased flexibility and specialization.
- Security and trust – Networks of all types are increasingly becoming targets of cyber-attacks. The dynamic nature of the threats makes it imperative to deploy sturdy security mechanisms. 6G networks will be designed to protect against threats like jamming. Privacy issues will need to be considered when new mixed-reality worlds combining digital representations of real and virtual objects are created.