Finland’s University of Oulu has published the world’s first white paper on the future of 6G wireless technology and infrastructure.
The ‘Key drivers and research challenges for 6G ubiquitous wireless intelligence’ white paper is based on information gathered at a summit of experts in the emerging 6G wireless capability sector held in Levi, Finnish Lapland, in March this year; and focuses on the key drivers and research priorities for the development of 6G technology, which the experts estimated would result in ‘ubiquitous wireless intelligence’ by 2030. The paper comprises seven themes:
- Social and business drivers of 6G wireless innovation, including adherence to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the evolving needs of the data market: the paper notes that while ‘[t]he technical success of 5G has relied on new developments in many areas and will deliver a much wider range of data rates to a much broader variety of devices and users[,] 6G will require a substantially more holistic approach to identify future communication needs, embracing a much wider community to shape the requirements of 6G.’;
- 6G use cases and new devices – the paper predicts a shift in user devices from smartphones toward wearable devices with virtual, augmented or mixed reality capability, along with the emergence of other innovations in technological engagement such as telepresence, mobile robots and autonomous vehicles; and identifies these as factors to be considered when constructing 6G-enabled networks;
- Key performance indicators and projected spectrum capability for 6G wireless connectivity, which the experts say should aim to transmit at rates of up to 1Tbps per user;
- Progress and challenges of the necessary radio hardware – communications applications and architecture must merge in order to offer the spectrum needed to achieve the requisite speeds for 6G connectivity;
- Wireless systems and the physical layer of development – the paper highlights issues of increased energy consumption and data processing, saying: ‘Meeting all the challenging requirements identified requires a hyper-flexible network with configurable radios. AI and machine learning will be used in concert with radio sensing and positioning to learn about the static and dynamic components of the radio environment.’;
- 6G wireless networking, including secure privacy protection protocols and the growing role of Artificial Intelligence and blockchain capability; and
- New service enablers – the paper highlights the growth of edge and cloud computing, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence and highlights the importance of shoring up privacy and trust in the network.
Professor Matti Latva-aho, Director of 6G Flagship at the University of Oulu and co-editor of the white paper with professor Kari Leppänen, said: “As 5G research is maturing and continues to support global standardization, we must already engage in mapping what 6G can become at its boldest. Company representatives, researchers, decision makers and other builders and members of smart society are invited to join our effort. Together we can try to make our share so that 6G visions and research directions would respond to United Nation’s sustainable development goals and societal challenges while creating true productivity through radically new technological enablers.”