The past two years have seen several 6G initiatives take place across the world, many of them relying on public investments.
Japan and the United States, for example, announced in 2021 a joint investment of $4.5 billion for the development of the next generation of mobile connectivity. In 2020, South Korea made public its plans to launch 6G first – a $170 million effort. The European Union has already granted at least $107 million for 6G-related research since 2017.
In addition to those actions, the latest movements in the US Congress promise to keep the 6G trend going in 2022. At least two bipartisan bills addressing 6G advancements will be reviewed and voted in the Congress and could lead to the establishment of a task force to make sure the country doesn’t lag behind other nations.
Both propositions address a similar topic but through different approaches: forming an expert group to help Congress put the right policies in place and position the US in the 6G race.
6G Task Force
The FUTURE Networks Act, approved by the US House of Representatives in December 2021, would create a 6G Task Force to assess the status of the industry-led bodies currently working on 6G standards. This group would also be responsible for outlining how different levels of the government could work together to leverage the technology.
The task force would be given six months to publish a draft report addressing those topics and up to one year to finish the study.
The FUTURE Networks Act is expected to be discussed and voted by the Senate in 2022. You can learn more about the text in this detailed article.
Another bill addressing the making of 6G is the Next Generation Telecommunications Act, introduced in October 2021 in the US Senate by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) with the support of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Thune (R-SD) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM).
The proposition aims to establish the Next Generation Telecommunications Council, a group composed of 15 stakeholders ranging from telecommunications experts to a representative appointed by the FCC to the Deputy Secretary of Commerce, currently Don Graves.
According to the introduced bill, the Council’s main goal would be to “advise Congress on 6G advancements and other advanced wireless communications technologies, including the use of such technologies for smart cities or communities.”
However, according to the proposed bill, the group should also review past actions of the processes and procedures used to advance wireless communication deployment, including 5G technology.
There are four major areas in which the group should advise Congress on 6G matters:
1) The development and adoption of 6G and other advanced wireless communications technologies, including ensuring digital inclusion and equity in access to such technologies for communities of color, those underserved, and rural communities;
2) Assessment of roles and responsibilities within the Federal Government and how the Federal Government can better coordinate functions to ensure timely decisions and needed actions;
3) Research and development into, and standards for, 6G and other advanced wireless communications technologies, including collaboration with the private sector and United States allies; and
4) The promotion of international cooperation, including security cooperation, with respect to 6G and other wireless communications technologies.
The Council would be given a year from its establishment to produce a final report addressing these topics and submit it to the Congress. After that, the Secretary of Commerce would be given 60 days to present a report assessment.
Considering that US politicians have already voiced their support for putting the country in a better position to compete for 5G and 6G, especially in the cybersecurity and semiconductor fields, one could expect a 6G bill to become law in 2022. Another chapter in the development of the next generation of mobile connectivity that we are witnessing firsthand.