How 6G Will Alter Our Interactions with Technology

Mobile operators are accelerating 5G’s flexible, low-latency, multi-gigabit-per-second rollout. The technology offers better data rates and a configurable network. This will be paired with high reliability and low latency to provide secure, reliable wireless ecosystems for manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare.

As more of us get familiar with 5G, technology and communications industries look to 6G. The official job description of 6G is still being written, but the technology is expected to enable a pervasive, seamless internet of things that connects sensors, automobiles, and other products and technologies to the network effortlessly and reliably. Proponents argue automobiles that can connect with the cloud and each other will improve traffic and safety.

“6G is not defined, so a great degree of flexibility is needed to help companies navigate potential changes of direction. They require flexibility in being able to change the product, shift development, and then be able to test the new platform.”

Greg Jue, a 6G system engineer at Keysight Technologies.

5G and 6G differ not just in bandwidths and how users connect to the network, but also in network and device intelligence. Devices must switch frequencies, modify data rates, and react to the needs of the application, which could be running locally, on the cloud’s edge, or on a public service.

“The collection of networks that will create the fabric of 6G must work differently for an augmented reality (AR) headset than for an e-mail client on a mobile device. Communications providers need to solve a plethora of technical challenges to make a variety of networks based on different technologies work seamlessly.” “One of the complexities of 6G will be, how do we bring the different wireless technologies together so they can hand off to each other, and work together really well, without the end user even knowing about it. That handoff is the difficult part.”

Shahriar Shahramian, a research lead with Nokia Bell Laboratories.

6G will usher in a self-aware network capable of supporting emerging technologies that are struggling for a foothold today, such as virtual reality and self-driving cars. AI and machine learning will be architected into 6G from the start to simplify technical tasks like optimizing radio waves and scheduling data traffic. These technologies will be integrated into 5G as it matures into 5G-Advanced.

Testing technology that doesn’t yet exist

“The companies creating the testbeds for 6G must contend with the simple fact that 6G is an aspirational goal, and not yet a real-world specification. The network complexity needed to fulfill the 6G vision will require iterative and comprehensive testing of all aspects of the ecosystem; but because 6G is a nascent network concept, the tools and technology to get there need to be adaptable and flexible.”

Greg Jue, a 6G system engineer at Keysight Technologies.

Nokia and Keysight are investigating the sub-terahertz spectrum for 6G communication, which creates new technical problems. The higher the frequency of the cellular spectrum, the broader the contiguous bandwidths and the higher the data rate, however this decreases signal range. Low-power 2.6Ghz and 5Ghz wi-fi networks have a range of tens of meters, yet 800Mhz and 1.9Ghz cellular networks have ranges of kilometers. 5-G’s 24-71GHz means smaller cells (tens to hundreds of meters). Challenges are significantly greater over 100GHz.

“That will have to change. One of the new key disruptors for 6G could be the move from the millimeter bands used in 5G, up to the sub-terahertz bands, which are relatively unexplored for wireless communication. Those bands have the potential to offer broad swaths of spectrum that could be used for high data-throughput applications, but they present a lot of unknowns as well.”

Greg Jue, a 6G system engineer at Keysight Technologies.

Adding sub-terahertz bands to wireless communications equipment could create huge networks of sensing devices, high-fidelity augmented reality, and locally networked automobiles. Future 6G networks will need various frequency bands, new network topologies, and enhanced security and dependability. Adapting to network circumstances and optimizing communications will require extra sensors and computing power. 6G will need AI and machine learning to manage system complexity and interactions.

Nokia will launch 6G before 2030. Because 6G is still evolving, development and testing systems must support a variety of devices, apps, and use cases. Today’s technology may not enable testing 6G applications, necessitating organizations like Keysight to design new testbed platforms and adapt to evolving requirements.

Simulation technology like digital twins will produce flexible solutions. Real-world data from actual prototypes can be merged into simulations, resulting in superior real-world designs.

“However, while real physical data is needed to create accurate simulations, digital twins would allow more agility for companies developing the technology.” “Really, kind of the key here, is a high degree of flexibility, and helping customers to be able to start doing their research and their testing, while also offering the flexibility to change, and navigate through that change, as the technology evolves. So, starting design exploration in a simulation environment and then combining that flexible simulation environment with a scalable sub-THz testbed for 6G research helps provide that flexibility.”

Greg Jue, a 6G system engineer at Keysight Technologies.

“For technology cycles, a decade is a long loop. For the complex technological systems of 6G, however, 2030 remains an aggressive goal. To meet the challenge, the development and testing tools must match the agility of the engineers striving to create the next network. The prize is significant—a fundamental change to the way we interact with devices and what we do with the technology.”

Shahriar Shahramian, a research lead with Nokia Bell Laboratories.

Source: CSR Wire

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