What is 6 G

Next big step for cellular networks is not 5G but its cloudification that will support the explosion of radically new services and applications ranging from immersive five-sense media to ambient sensing intelligence and a pervasive introduction of artificial intelligence. The 6G will transform the 5G service-oriented networks into user and machine ad-hoc dynamic (re)configuration of network slices.

All the commercial networks so far have been deployed in non-standalone (NSA) mode, where the 5G radio access network connects with the 4G core platform and limits the value proposition to industrial verticals.

NSA mode enables network slicing (a long-heralded feature of 5G) only in the core. However, an end-to-end standalone (SA) mode 5G network, comprising the RAN and next-generation 5G packet core capabilities, enables slicing in the RAN as well as the core, opening up more options and business cases for mobile operators.

Work on the SA mode specifications is ongoing on, which are due to be available from 2020. That set of specifications will includebetter support for Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) and massive IoTservices, though the specifications for Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) for new radio (NR) will not be frozen until Release 17.

The 3GPP schedule is still open though it is likely that R17 will be completed in the first half of 2021. 6G technology might be included in the 3GPP Release 18 or possibly Release 19.

6G will be enabled by software-defined end-to-end solutions from the core to the radio access network, including the air interface as well as the RF and antenna systems which are envisioned as one of the keys to meet the user/service requirements. Users and machines will be indeed able to dynamically (re)configure network slices thanks to intelligent personal edges.

The initial thinking is that 6G will target speeds of 1 terabyte per second. To get those speeds, signals will need to be transmitted above 1 terahertz, compared to the measly gigahertz range where 5G operates. Operating at that range in the spectrum may require breakthroughs in material research, new computing architectures, chip designs, and new ways of coupling that with energy sources.

Artificial intelligence will be the main driver of mobile technology and 6G will be the enabling force behind an entirely new generation of applications for machine intelligence. 6G is expected to offer even faster download speeds that could approach 1 tera bit per second.

The proposed 6G terahertz spectrum imaging could change the way doctors and researchers understand biological processes on the cellular level and doctors may be able to use the technology to conduct noninvasive cancer screening tests. In security settings, terahertz spectroscopy can be used to identify dangerous materials and weapons, meaning threats to safety can be identified without body scams. Some of the possible use cases fall into the realms of wireless cognition, sensing, imaging, communication, and positioning. Applications such as robotic and drone fleet control, air-quality detection, health monitoring, see-in-the-dark imaging, high-definition radar, security body scanning, wireless fiber for backhaul, and centimeter-level positioning are all possible.