Back in 2020, the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) urged the United States administration to gather telco players together and take the lead in 6G research. The reason? Several countries, such as China, South Korea, and Japan, had already kicked off their Beyond 5G programs. Two years later, it looks like at least some progress has been made.
In 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), for instance, awarded the first Spectrum Horizons License – a ten-year special category of authorization for experimenting with frequencies between 95 GHz and 3 THz. It has also established an expert group to advise the board on how to conduct spectrum works in 6G.
In addition, the US Congress is currently analysing two draft bills that would allocate a budget for a task force to investigate how to design and deploy 6G technologies. On the presidential side, the Biden administration has signed memoranda of understanding with countries like Japan, with whom the US will invest $4.5 billion for 6G development.
However, it is in the university where strides seem to be made faster. “We really believe that academia can help push the 6G vision beyond an incremental improvement on 5G,” Eric Burger, Professor at Virginia Tech, said at a recent event. He is also the Technical Programme Officer at the Next G Alliance, a North American initiative led by ATIS and several players to advance research on the next generation of mobile connectivity.
“From an industrial perspective, the industry is looking for a fresh perspective on the realm of the possible. What can we do that is beyond an incremental improvement on 5G?”
This exchange between academia and the private sector has been powered by recent funding from federal agencies – like the NSF – to universities, increasing their capacity to carry out research.
And they are carrying out research. “Coming from the academic side, there is a growth in the number of testbeds and research platforms that could enable experimentation, data collection, and piloting of some ideas,” observed Nick Laneman, Centre Director at University of Notre Dame-led SpectrumX, during a recent webinar.
Both Burger and Laneman will speak at the upcoming 6GSymposium in a joint session with Northeastern University and NYU to discuss the state of research in the United States and the next steps to be taken.
Other regions of the globe have also been paying attention to the development of new communications technologies. In Europe, for example, the European Union granted over €95 million to 6G research by April 2021. According to data gathered by 6GWorld, there are at least 20 joint initiatives running on the continent and 156 organisations taking part, including private companies and universities. In China, the government has reportedly been investing big money in research – even though much is still unknown about the country’s plans.
If this intensity of research persists, and there is no indication that it will change any time soon, it is not madness to expect great achievements in 6G development.
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