Experts ponder 6G as 5G slowly integrates


It wasn’t too long ago that 5G connectivity was being talked about as the next big thing in telecommunications.


The new network technology has been hailed of the first of its kind, a topography that replaces traditional wireless cell tower platforms with a combination of fiberoptic cabled networking and small cell wireless devices deployed strategically for better network coverage.


Now, we’re hearing more about the need to manage telecommunication builds as stakeholders struggle to deploy 5G and think ahead to the future of 6G communication.


A new story today quotes an Ericsson Consumer Lab study last month that found 7 out of 10 respondents were dissatisfied with elements of 5G.


That led to some conversation about how 6G can eventually be better.


“6G must deliver an outcome that is aligned with real needs,” David Lister, Head of 6G Research and Development Technology at Europe’s Vodafone Group, recently said at an event called the 6G Symposium, “and deliver outcomes that are sustainable and commercially driven. … The traditional focus in generational networks has always been on the radio and the core … 5G broke that history. It started a transition towards more IT architecture, cloud-native, software-based networks. And I think, as we are increasingly in this IT domain going forward, we can expect future technologies to be introduced in an agile way, not necessarily encumbered by ten-years-generational thinking, but more incrementally, with regular feature improvements.”


Some of the guidance for correcting the ills of 5G networking may be guided by groups like the 3GPP, established in 1998 to provide standards for emerging telecommunications networks. The 3GPP’s 18th release is scheduled for later this year.


What will 6G look like?


Experts characterize it as putting more focus on cloud connectivity services and data networking rather than radiofrequency technologies. How about AI-enabled networks?


“Recently, artificial intelligence (Ai) has been utilized as a new paradigm for the design and optimization of 6G networks with a high level of intelligence,” reads an IEEE publication from late 2020. “(Experts consider) an Ai-enabled intelligent architecture for 6G networks to realize knowledge discovery, smart resource management, automatic network adjustment and intelligent service provisioning, where the architecture is divided into four layers: intelligent sensing layer, data mining and analytics layer, intelligent control layer and smart application layer.”


Look for 6G to be fleshed out as a concept as 5G continues to move into communities and replace aging 4G systems.