Network disaggregation, quantum-safe infrastructure, and flexibility for operators to manage their hardware. These are some of the guiding principles and expectations that the NGMN Alliance (NGMN) has for 6G, according to a document that the initiative released today.
The publication, called “6G Position Statement: An Operator View”, outlines innovations and new services that future networks should deliver, as well as operational priorities from the operator’s point of view and standardisation and spectrum goals.
In a statement, NGMN says it is taking “a proactive stance and emphasising the needs for a new paradigm for graceful evolution and successful value creation and delivery” – a reference to the initiative’s February design considerations paper.
“Whatever 6G might become, it will be built on the foundations of 5G. This publication shines a light on the challenges our industry faces in delivering compelling new 6G services and capabilities for end-users”, said Luke Ibbetson, Member of the NGMN Alliance Board and Head of Group R&D at Vodafone.
“Simultaneously, as we embark on this journey towards the 6G era, we are actively steering network disaggregation and an open, interoperable cloud-native architecture,” he stated.
The document comprises four pillars: innovations and services, operational priorities, guiding principles, and spectrum.
Innovations and Services
According to NGMN, 6G should provide opportunities to develop:
- Joint sensing and communications, AI, extended AR/VR, enhanced positioning, etc.
- Seamless integration and interoperability with fixed and satellite networks.
- Support network-related APIs, fostering new service offerings that leverage network capabilities.
The initiative states that 6G networks must be designed considering:
- Network simplification leading to lower operational costs whilst retaining scalability and flexible deployment models.
- Absolute energy reduction when assessed across mobile and fixed networks to support the transition towards low-carbon economies.
- Features (such as AI) that support automated network operations and orchestration to enable efficient, dynamic service provisioning.
- Proactive network management capabilities across fixed and mobile networks to predict and address issues before they impact user experience.
- Quantum-safe infrastructure, resistant to attack by Quantum computers.
From an operator perspective, NGMN supports that:
- 6G mobile network standards must be globally harmonised.
- The decision to refresh 5G RAN hardware for operational reasons such as end-of-life, energy consumption or new capabilities must be an operator-driven choice, independent of supporting 6G.
- 6G introduction must allow specific scenarios to be realised through software-based feature upgrades of existing network elements to meet 6G requirements.
- 6G must not result in degraded performance for customers connected to 5G networks.
- New features should be able to be deployed as and when required without compromising existing core connectivity services such as voice.
- 6G must address demonstrable customer needs across mobile, fixed and non-terrestrial networks.
- 6G must ensure interoperability and backward compatibility with 5G.
- 6G must incorporate robust security measures by design to protect against emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
Regarding spectrum usage, the initiative says that:
- Existing IMT spectrum identifications (<7GHz) will remain essential for delivering mobile coverage.
- New IMT spectrum in bands 6-15GHz must be licensed for IMT-2020 and beyond technologies.
- Deployments using the new IMT spectrum in the sub-THz bands may adopt a new IMT-2030 and beyond radio technology.
“With this ‘6G Position Statement, ’ we continue focusing on providing guidance and requirements to the industry in the areas of our three strategic focus topics, which build on each other. It is another valuable example of joint global MNO efforts within NGMN, which will continue working on 6G E2E requirements by collaborating with our entire Partnership for the benefit of the ecosystem and end-users”, concluded Anita Doehler, CEO at NGMN Alliance.
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