A working group designed to promote North American leadership in the nascent field of 6G networks has published a roadmap for the industry, outlining six ‘audacious’ goals that can make its ambition a reality.
The development and deployment of 6G is viewed as a “trillion dollar opportunity” for the mobile industry, while technical leadership is increasingly a political priority for many governments around the world.
Research efforts are well under way in Europe, China, Japan and in North America in a bid to become a leader not just in the development of 5G applications and services, but also the technologies that will comprise global standards.
6G leadership in North America
With mobile connectivity increasingly important to society and the economy, any influence on global standards is an increasingly viewed as desirable from a geopolitical standpoint.
The ‘Next G Alliance’ is an industry initiative comprising more than 80 organisations and 600 experts from industry, government and academia established last year and the ‘Roadmap to 6G’ is the first significant result of its actives.
The publication describes the steps that all stakeholders must take to give North America the best chance of technical leadership, along with a timeline that will promote coordinated research, commercialisation, and adoption strategies.
Key priorities for the group include the advancement of trust, security, and resilience, an enhanced digital world experience, cost efficiencies across the entire mobile infrastructure, distributed cloud and communications systems, an AI native future network and sustainability.
“This report will ensure North America proactively aligns all critical sectors vital to 6G success to create a foundation for North American global leadership,” said Susan Miller, president and CEO of ATIS, the industry body behind the Next G Alliance. “Beyond its technical contributions, the Roadmap shows how 6G can benefit society and industries in a variety of sectors – as well as how North America will become an epicenter of innovation-driven economic growth in a new era of wireless.”
Although it is too early to predict the final form the 6G standard will take and which technologies will be included, there are some plausible assumptions about its capabilities and the challenges that operators, manufacturers and researchers face.
Naturally, 6G networks will deliver huge advances in speed, capacity, and low latency, while it is also expected they will be much more intelligent and reliable. This will deliver superior mobile broadband but also enable advanced services such as truly immersive extended reality (XR), high-fidelity mobile holograms and digital twins.
Central to these applications will be the ability of 6G to compensate for current constraints – such as the limited processing capability of mobile devices – and the integration of intelligence into the network.
If the most ambitious targets are met, then 6G will deliver 100 times the capacity of 5G and will be able to support 10 million devices per square kilometre.
Signals would extend 10,000 metres above the surface, enabling ‘3D coverage’ in the skies, space and underwater. All these capabilities would allow for intelligent sensing, positioning, edge computing, and high-definition imaging.
- It will be a while before you can get your hands on 6G, so why not look at the best 5G phone deals instead?
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.