The year of 2020, besides being remembered as the year of a pandemic only seen in movies, also was important for 5G, with more increased availability of next gen (current gen?) networks around the world. While countries like South Korea, China, and Finland are taking the lead in mass adoption of 5G, we are seeing 5G networks going live in other places as well.
For example, in Croatia operator HT kicked off their 5G network based on NSA (non-standalone equipment) and sharing 4G spectrum. We didn’t see a great increase in speed from 4G(+), but progress nevertheless. It will get faster with standalone gear and dedicated frequency bands.
Anyways, the topic of this article is 6G. The European Union is financing a 6G project called Hexa-X with a goal of developing use-cases, pre-standards and researching into other elements that the 6G network can consist of. Nokia is the project lead of Hexa-X, while Ericsson has the role of Technical Manager. Other companies and institutions included in the project are Aalto University, Intel, Orange, Telefonica, Oulu University, Siemens and others. You can find the full list here.
Things Nokia’s research and development powerhouse Bell Labs identified as 6 research challenges include:
Connecting intelligence: AI/Machine Learning (ML) technologies need to be a vital and trusted tool for significantly improved efficiency and service experience, serving humans
Network of networks: multiple types of resources need to be aggregated to create a digital ecosystem that grows more and more capable, intelligent, and heterogeneous, eventually creating a single network of networks
Sustainability: energy-optimized digital infrastructure for a reduced global ICT environmental footprint, as well as delivering effective and sustainable digitization tools for global industry, society and policymakers
Global service coverage: efficient and affordable solutions for global service coverage, connecting remote places
Extreme experience: extreme bitrates, extremely low (imperceptible) latencies, seemingly infinite capacity, and precision localization and sensing
Trustworthiness: ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of communications and delivering data privacy, operational resilience and security
The commercial availability of 6G is expected in 2030, while this project’s duration is 2.5 years. I couldn’t manage to find the budget for it, but money on R&D is usually money well spent.