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Let’s start talking about 6G!

Will 6G be faster than 5G. Sure. But will be that the reason to move on from 5G. I don’t think so. Image credit: Telecom Tech News

What?! 5G is not year yet and I am proposing to start talking about 6G?

Well, as an excuse, let me say that I am not the only one, and talking about 6G is a way to demystify 5G.

It may also be appropriate to point out that someone believes there will never be a 6G (!) because if 5G is done properly it will be an open collection of technologies and systems that will simply grow over time.

Although I agree that 5G is potentially an open cluster of technologies and systems providing a unifying umbrella and as such anything can fall under it I do not agree that it will be the end of the story, because:

  • marketing will need a 6G as soon as 5G will be deployed
  • researchers will have to mark the novelty of what they will be working on
  • 5G will not be as open as we might desire and hence will not be able to accommodate any new development

Of the three reasons, of course, the one based on marketing need is the strongest.

At the IEEE FDC, within the Industry Advisory Board -IAB-, we have been discussing the evolution of wireless systems, focussing on 5G, and in that context we came up with an outline of 6G. I had a nice talk just few days ago with Ezio Zerbini who has been with Ericsson for quite a while and always a good sparring partner in discussing the future of telecommunications. He has a very in depth knowledge of what it takes to evolve a telecommunications system and what are the real customers need for such an evolution.

Well, at the IAB we stated that the 6G will be a significant evolution from 5G for its capability of self aggregating networks of different types. Whilst 5G should be able to accommodate different types of networks (technologies) 6G will be able to take the lead to aggregate them to satisfy needs arising in a dynamic way.

Ezio gave me his vision of 6G that is not that much different from the one we gave: 6G networks will embed planning into the network itself, meaning that the network will become aware of the way it is being used, what is actually required by its users at this specific moment and what it is likely to be required at a later time and it will be able to plan for its evolution by reconfiguring its resources and by “asking” vested parties to provide additional resources coming up with a convincing reason and a convincing business plan.

To do that the 6G network will need to be an autonomous system, able to learn and make prediction, develop a convincing plan and negotiate it with a variety of stakeholders.  This, if you think about it, is an amazing prospect, an infrastructure that becomes self aware and able to plan and foster its own evolution.

6G will become a reality beyond 2035, that is in the right timeframe when we expect Artificial Intelligence to match our own and autonomous systems to live in a symbiotic relation with us.

Year Technology Biz Non Telco
85-99 Analogue Vertically Integrated
95-20 Digital GSM V.I., Pre-paid cards
Initial disruption of fixed line biz
Bluetooth
03-26 3G MVNO
loss of service controlfrom second part of first decade
+ WiFi / MIMO
services provided by many third parties (Apps)
15-30 4G – max spectrum efficiency,
native Ip support, MIMO
Flat rate increasingly dominates. Fixed Mobile offers + V2X

WiFi +BlueT as device to device comm

20-40 5G – carriers aggregation,
session mgt in the device
Disaggregated at the edges, device led, access providers both from Telecom Unlicensed frequencies abound

and from other industries

30-50 6G – self aggregating communications fabric.
Planning becomes part of the infrastructure itself that acts like a self standing autonomous system
Infrastructures as regulated “natural” commodities. Ad hoc communications fabric provided by third parties as part of their non-telco biz

Most products create a communication space that autonomously aggregate into networks

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently the Chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and up to September 2018 he was the Head of the EIT Digital Industrial Doctoral School. Previously, up to December 2011, he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.

2 comments

  1. What corporations have the capability of utilizing 6G and beyond?

    Are you paralleling a cave man who finds a computer in this article?

    Intelstat uses 5g effectively now and it’s fairly new.

    What are your thoughts on future for corporations to do this?

    Are there any corporations that can utilize 6 g and beyond?

  2. As we have moved from 2 to 3, from 3 to 4, and now 4 to 5, we will be moving from 5 to 6 and then on. It is a never ending story. Having said that we are reaching a thresholds where the performances offered by the present system are adequate for most activities, and the very few ones that need “more” are not sufficient to generate sufficient return on the investment.
    Hence, performance will keep increasing but the selling point will not be the performance increase rather other aspects, like an opening of the market to other players that would use new technology/architecture as a way to enter the market.
    In principle all companies will be using what’s coming up after 5G, as we are using new fridge models in our home, even though the previous one was pretty good in storing food….

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