6G is the next-generation wireless technology that will build on the advancements of 5G and provide faster speeds, lower latency, and improved coverage.
The vision for 6G is to enable new and advanced services such as immersive experiences and the Internet of Everything, through a combination of innovations in technology, spectrum, and network architecture.
The 6G vision also includes non-terrestrial access, multi-connectivity, and security assurance. The development of 6G will require close collaboration between industry, academia, and regulators to ensure that its benefits are fully realized for the benefit of society.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the key points of the Ericsson 6G white paper, including its definition of 6G, its envisioned capabilities, and the potential implications of its implementation.
What is 6G?
6G is the sixth generation of mobile communication technology, following 5G. It promises to be a step change in connectivity, with faster speeds, lower latency, and more robust network performance.
Ericsson predicts that 6G will be ready for commercialization by 2030, with the first services potentially being rolled out as early as 2028.
Key Features of 6G
Ericsson’s 6G white paper outlines several key features that will define the next generation of mobile communication technology. These include:
- Increased Speeds: 6G is expected to offer speeds up to 1 Tbps, which is 100 times faster than 5G.
- Enhanced Virtual and Augmented Reality Experiences: 6G will support high-resolution, low-latency VR and AR experiences, allowing for a more immersive experience.
- Enhanced Network Performance: 6G will offer a more reliable and secure network, with improved network capacity and coverage.
- Internet of Things (IoT) Connectivity: 6G will support billions of connected devices, making it a crucial technology for the IoT.
Implications of 6G
The implementation of 6G will have far-reaching implications for a wide range of industries and applications. Some of the key implications include:
- Improved Healthcare: 6G will support remote surgical procedures, telemedicine, and other innovative medical applications.
- Advancements in Autonomous Vehicles: 6G will provide the connectivity necessary for fully autonomous vehicles, making them a reality.
- Enhanced Entertainment Experiences: 6G will support high-quality streaming, gaming, and other multimedia content, providing a more immersive and interactive experience.
- Improved Industrial Efficiency: 6G will support real-time monitoring and control of industrial processes, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.
6G Required Network Capabilities
The future of wireless access networks must go beyond the capabilities of today’s networks in order to support a wide range of new and evolving services.
This involves enhancing classic capabilities such as data rates, latency, and system capacity, as well as incorporating new capabilities that may be more qualitative in nature. The goal is not only to match currently envisioned use cases but also to enable future services that have yet to be imagined.
The capabilities of future wireless access networks need to be enhanced and extended to serve as the platform for a range of new and evolving services. This includes higher data rates, lower latency, system capacity, and new qualitative capabilities. The networks should provide cost-efficient, high-speed connectivity with predictable low latency and jitter. They should be resilient and secure, with dependable compute and AI integration, high-precision positioning, and detailed sensing capabilities. These networks should be able to close the digital divide while being energy efficient and trustworthy, offering enhanced security identities and protocols. Sensing and communication should be efficiently integrated, with scalable mechanisms for distributing results, AI interpretation, and privacy protection.
Enhanced Capabilities for Future Wireless Access Networks
- High achievable data rates and low latency
- Possibility of providing several hundred gigabits per second and end-to-end sub-millisecond latency
- High-speed connectivity with predictable low latency and low jitter rate
- Cost-Efficient Deployment of Dense Networks
- Higher spectral efficiency of radio access technology
- Access to additional spectrum
- Full global coverage while supporting higher number of devices
Resilience and Security
- Provide service during disruptions
- Robust resistance against malicious attacks
- Improved trustworthiness with confidential computing technologies and enhanced security identities.
- Dependable compute and AI integration
- Quick development and deployment of distributed applications and network functions
- Data and compute acceleration services with performance guarantees
Sensing and Efficient Radio Resource Usage
- High-precision positioning and detailed sensing capabilities
- Efficient use of radio resources for communication and sensing
- Distribution and interpretation of results with AI-based interpretation and privacy mechanisms.
6G Technology Elements
The future networks need to be highly adaptable to address various inefficiencies, including cost of deployments, energy consumption, network development, and operations management.
This can be achieved by incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) for programmability, multi-service abstraction, and closed-loop automation to keep the transport networks flexible and manageable.
- Cost-effective deployment
- Energy consumption
- Network development and expansion
- Management and operations
Dynamic Network Deployment
Dynamic network deployment is crucial for the cost-effective deployment of high-capacity, resilient networks.
The challenge lies in seamlessly integrating traditional service provider-deployed network nodes with ad-hoc, user-deployed, and non-terrestrial nodes.
Multi-hop communication is expected to play a crucial role in dynamic network deployment by providing seamless wireless connectivity with low costs and high flexibility.
- Seamless multi-hop wireless connectivity
- Flexible, scalable and reliable transport network
- AI-powered programmability
Device and Network Programmability
The previous generations of cellular networks relied on network configurations to control device behaviors. However, this limited the speed of development as new features could not be applied to legacy devices.
In 6G, devices will be more programmable, with hardcoded behaviors being replaced by a more programmable environment.
This would enable the networks to be more programmable as well, allowing for faster feature development and bug fixing, as well as customizing the device behavior for specific use cases.
- Future-proof devices
- More programmable environment
- Faster feature development
- DevOps-type operations
Network Simplification and Cross-RAN/CN Optimizations
With the growing importance of networks in society, higher availability and resilience are required. Over the years, networks have become complex with multiple components supporting different functions.
Future deployments will aim to simplify the network components, reduce duplicated functionalities, and minimize system complexity.
This will require careful selection of multi-vendor interfaces to ensure openness in the network ecosystem while keeping development and operations manageable.
- Higher availability and resilience
- Common platforms for RAN and CN
- Revisiting architecture assumptions
- Minimizing system complexity.
Better End-to-End Connectivity
- Applications and networks can collaborate to provide the most suitable networking services. Collaboration must be explicitly agreed upon by both parties, with both benefitting from and consenting to it.
- Network resilience must be addressed from multiple perspectives to ensure that applications requiring resilience for their connectivity and end-to-end communication are supported. The internet infrastructure must also be available, resilient, and resistant to commercial surveillance.
- The internet protocol stack has become easier to change, making it possible to update transport protocols without impacting operating system kernels.
- Future communications will require multi-access technology, and applications will have even stricter requirements. This presents an opportunity to build solutions that handle multi-path communications, resilience, and congestion control in mobile networks more efficiently.
- Many use cases have a maximum latency tolerance, and achieving predictable latency will open opportunities for testing additional use cases. It will also support both distributed and centralized deployment models.
Extreme Performance and Coverage
The future wireless access solution must provide truly extreme performance in a multitude of capability dimensions and all relevant scenarios in order to enable future in-demand services at acceptable costs.
- Providing truly extreme performance in multiple capability dimensions and all relevant scenarios
- Enabling in-demand services with acceptable costs
- Extreme data rates and latency performance as required
- Extreme system capacity for high number of users
- Global coverage of the wireless access
Technologies for Dense Deployments
- Packet fronthaul and new wireless transport technologies (relay and mesh networking, free-space optics, integrated access and backhaul).
Spectrum Essential Resource
- Access to wideband spectrum and efficient utilization of existing spectrum
- Both licensed and unlicensed spectrum of interest
- Lower frequency bands (up to 6 GHz) for wide-area coverage
- Millimeter wave frequency bands for high data rates
- 7-24 GHz range for advanced sharing mechanisms
- Above 100 GHz for specific scenarios requiring high traffic capacity
Non-Terrestrial Access (Global Coverage)
- Complementary non-terrestrial access components (drones, HAPS, LEO satellites)
- Integrated part of overall wireless access solution
- Seamless coverage everywhere
Multi-Connectivity and Distributed MIMO
- Multi-point connectivity to become common
- Expansion of existing technologies (multi-radio, dual-connectivity, multi-point transmissions)
- Massive multi-connectivity on physical layer (distributed MIMO)
- Multi-RAT connectivity for simultaneous services in a more optimized way
Embedded Devices Everywhere
- Massive machine-type communication provides low data rates for applications like remote meter reading
- Battery life limitations can be overcome through energy harvesting from ambient sources such as light or vibrations
- Energy-efficient communication protocols are necessary due to the limited energy available for harvesting
- Radio-based technologies may provide a better solution for applications like asset tracking compared to current methods
Immersive Interaction Devices
- Future users will have a more immersive experience with the digital world through on-body devices such as smart gloves or skin sensors
- Accurate positioning and real-time updates of virtual objects through all senses will require sub-millisecond latencies
- BCI devices could enhance the experience by capturing and securely sharing user intentions with virtual objects
- Network synchronization between virtual objects and sensory stimuli will be necessary
- Trustworthiness aspects such as user verification must be addressed to protect vulnerable users.
6G Security Assurance
Key Points on 6G Security Assurance:
- Current attention on security assurance and certification
- EU Cybersecurity Act established an EU framework for cybersecurity certification
- State-of-the-art security assurance schemes (GSMA NESAS) provide security assurance for specific product version
- Need for further development in areas such as virtualization, cloud computing, continuous integration and delivery, AI
- Security has a wider interpretation than just product security
- Future security assurance schemes should consider all aspects of the system, including networks in operation
- Importance of establishing well-defined requirements and processes accepted by all stakeholders, preferably achieved in line with global standards.
In conclusion, Ericsson’s 6G white paper provides a glimpse into the future of communication technology and the potential impact it will have on our world.
While there is still much work to be done to fully realize the capabilities of 6G, the potential benefits are undeniable and it is exciting to think about what the future holds.
As we move towards a more connected and cyber-physical world, 6G will play a critical role in enabling this transition.
In this article, we aimed to provide a concise overview of the 6G vision and its potential capabilities for a better future.
Also note that there are also numerous considerations and challenges to be addressed in the transition to 6G networks those you can read in article with detailed explanation into our another blog “6G Potential Concerns: Risks & Impacts“.