Even though 5G is yet to make its way to many countries of the world, the new 5G Advanced is expected to develop 5G to its utmost capabilities and act as a stepping stone for some use-cases that the industry wants to enable at a much larger scale when 6G arrives.
Mikko Uusitalo, Head of Radio Systems Research Finland at Nokia Bell Labs and lead for European 6G Flagship Hexa-X, told RCR Wireless News, “With 5G-Advanced, AI/ML will be introduced to many parts of the network at many layers and in many functions. From the optimization of beam forming in the radio layer to scheduling at the cell site with self-optimizing networks, all using AI/ML to achieve better performance at lower complexity. In 6G, Nokia expects 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.”
He continues, “While 5G-Advanced will expand 5G beyond just data communication and substantially improve positioning accuracy to centimeter-level, especially for indoors and underground facilities where satellite signals are unavailable, 6G will take localization to the next level by taking advantage of wide spectrum and new spectral ranges all the way up to terahertz.”
According to Uusitalo, as-yet-non-standardised 6G systems are expected to launch commercially by 2030, while the first phase of standardisation could commence from 2025. This will lead to the first 6G specification in 3GPP Release 21 by 2028 followed by a commercial deployment sometime in 2030.
“Meanwhile, 5G will be enhanced by 5G-Advanced, which will be a key focus for 3GPP in Release 18 & 19 onwards and will power commercial public and private networks starting in 2025 onwards,” added Uusitalo, “well before 6G arrives at the end of the decade.”
While commenting on the potential features of the 6G network, Uusitalo noted that when 6G launches, the physical, digital, and human world will coherently fuse together and trigger an extrasensory experience for users. He also highlighted that intelligent knowledge systems will be combined with robust computation capabilities that’ll make humans endlessly sufficient.
“One of the most notable aspects of 6G will be its ability to sense the environment. The network will become a source of situational information, gathering signals that are bouncing off objects and determining type and shape, relative location, velocity and perhaps even material properties. This sensing network would open the door for many new services. In outdoor environments, the network could detect the location, speed and trajectory of all vehicles and pedestrians in an area, issuing warnings if any of their paths are about to intersect,” Uusitalo said.
Uusitalo went on to conclude that, “factories could use network sensing to make it safer for humans and industrial robots to work side-by-side on the shop floor. At work or at home, the network could detect if a vulnerable person has fallen, alerting emergency responders about possible trauma. All these will be done with higher levels of network security and cyber-resilience, and with CSPs continuing to act as a trusted party.”
He also highlighted that 6G will build on top of 5G in terms of many of the technological and use case aspects, and at the same time, 6G will enable new use cases as well. It is likely that these use cases, based on his description, will tie directly into geolocation as well as technologies like Mixed Reality and Metaverses. If cellular data can read the environment then this could also redefine sensor technology. Recently Second Life creator, Phillip Rosedale, returned to the project due to the renewed interest in metaverse technology, arguably 6G could trigger a further evolution to the virtual spaces we occupy.
Featured Image: Frederik Lipfert