On November 5, 2020, the 6GWorld website officially launched as a platform for researchers, professionals and fans of telecommunications to discuss and shape the next generation of mobile connectivity and the technologies that 6G could enable.
A year later, we already have three 6GSymposiums, seven webinars and four published white papers in the books, saying nothing of over 180 exclusives addressing wide-ranging topics from industry reports to interviews with CEOs.
To celebrate this one-year anniversary, we have selected the five most-read pieces over this period as a way to reflect the direction of the industry and what the expectations for 6G technologies are. Here are the audience’s top 5 articles.
ATIS launches Next 6G Initiative in North America
Surely one of the most important markets for the telecommunications industry in terms of revenue, research and innovation, the United States has been criticised for the lack of investment and policymaking to fight for leadership in 6G development. That led to the launch of the Next G Alliance in October 2020.
The initiative, led by the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), aims to influence especially the U.S. government funding priorities and actions that will incentivise the industry. It was founded by 43 members but saw partners increase to 67 in November 2021, including the likes of AT&T, Bell Canada, Ericsson, Intel, InterDigital, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, T-Mobile, Verizon and others.
“We hope to lay a foundation for a very vibrant marketplace for products and services globally. There are definitely other goals and objectives to the Next G Alliance, but it will be one piece of establishing North American leadership whereby we will really want the government to understand what industry’s technology priorities are for 6G and beyond,” said Susan Miller, President and CEO at ATIS in an interview with 6GWorld.
So far, the initiative has announced its steering group, as well as launched the work on a 6G roadmap. In October 2021, the Next G Alliance contributed with an input to ITU-R’s “IMT Vision for 2030 and Beyond.”
The OTFS Interview – Implications of a 6G Candidate Technology
There are many candidates to make 6G – or beyond 5G – a reality by 2030. One of them is the Orthogonal Time Frequency and Space, or simply OTFS, waveform. According to Professor Ronny Hadani of the University of Texas, Austin – which launched a research centre on 6G – OTFS is a promising waveform.
“What makes the OTFS waveform unique is that it’s basically oblivious to distortion. It can go through the environment; the environment tries to distort it, but the waveform is shaped in such a way that no matter what the environment does to it the waveform doesn’t change its shape,” he explained in an interview with 6GWorld.
In his opinion, OTFS will be part of future standards for telecommunications. “I think OTFS should be part of the next standard, because it answers particular use cases in the best way. I think the next standard will be a multi-waveform standard, though – for example, Wi-Fi works very well in many use cases and OFDM is optimal for certain things. So OTFS will be part of an arsenal of tools for the networks to use in different environments,” he said.
“I think the more complex part will be to bring it closer to a real industrial use, to make it scalable, worth investing money in. It’s never about the technology; it’s about other things. In this case, I think it will depend on the question: ‘Is 5G living up to its promises?’”
What Will We Do with 6G?
We are thrilled when thought leaders submit their contributions to the website as well. That was the case with Ken Wieland, whose guest article “What Will We Do with 6G?” was published in January 2021.
In his article, Wieland discusses what are the possibilities and the use cases 6G may enable – or benefit from – by 2030, when it is expected by many researchers and companies to be available.
“The notion of human ‘immersion’ and interaction with the digital world is a recurring 6G theme. In an early 6G white paper published by research university Virginia Tech (VT) in February 2019, the authors flagged the potential of wireless brain-computer interactions (BCI). Traditional BCI applications, they said, were pretty much limited to healthcare scenarios where humans can control prosthetic limbs or nearby computing devices using brain implants,” he wrote.
Still, he noted that not everyone is adamant about the next generation of mobile connectivity’s need, especially at the expense of the 5G development. “Given that tech visions can become blurred (or postponed) as time passes, Karri Kuoppamaki, Vice President of technology development and strategy at T-Mobile USA, sounded a note of caution. ‘It’s OK to get excited about 6G, but we have to get excited the right way,’ he said. ‘We should avoid unnecessary hype and not fall victim to the shiny object syndrome.’”
Tasting Digital: How the Way You Sense the World Will Change in the Next Decade
One of 6G’s promises, according to a paper published by Ericsson, is the emergence of the Internet of Senses, an era where humans will not only be able to see or listen to the digital world but feel it as well – smell it, touch it, taste it.
Among the researchers working on this kind of interactivity is Nimesha Ranasinghe, Assistant Professor at the University of Maine. He has been looking into sensing since 2008 and has come up with some tools that are functional today.
- The Vocktail: A bottle that lets the user personalise the taste of the water. It is equipped with aroma tubes and LED lights to enhance the experience, and electrodes responsible for stimulating the tongue. There is also an app that controls the taste.
- The Virtual Lemonade: A set of appliances that allow a person to share a taste over the internet. It is equipped with a sensor that captures the colour and pH of a real lemonade.
- The Virtual Lollipop: A system that simulates tastes as in a lollipop.
“When we [completely] move to 5G and then 6G and beyond, I think we will start to add new solutions, like the virtual reality experience. We will be able to create technologies to immediately connect to someone else’s stream in virtual reality. And then you are not there only with the visual aspects, but also [others like] the haptic sensations,” Ranasinghe said. “Researchers around the world are looking at other potential applications. The Internet of Things is one of the aspects which has huge potential.”
Ericsson, NEC, and CEA Top EU 6G Research Funding
In April, 6GWorld published a series of articles digging into the European Union’s investments in 6G research, using the CORDIS database to gather the data. The investigation showed that the EU has made €95.1 million available for Beyond 5G- and 6G-specific research between 2017 and 2025.
The statistics showed that there are at least 20 initiatives focused on the next generation of connectivity under way or already carried out by European players.
Among these players, Ericsson, NEC Laboratories and CEA (Commissariat a L’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives) received the most funding. Combined, the European Union streamed over €8.5 million into these companies for research.
Featured image by Raychan/Unsplash
Journalist since eight years old, when I would read the newspaper out loud and pretend it was a radio show. Based in São Paulo, I have worked for Brazilian websites as reporter and editor before joining 6GWorld