Why is collaborative research key to developing future 6G systems?

According to Keysight Technologies, there is great interest from governments globally to kickstart 6G research

Although global deployment of 5G is making solid progress and 3GPP Releases 17 and 18 will certainly enable more advanced 5G applications and use cases in the coming years, numerous operators, vendors, universities and other tech firms are already engaged in regional 6G research initiatives and some of them have already published white papers with some preliminary concepts about as-yet-unstandardized 6G technologies.

The Next G Alliance in North America, FutureForum in China, 6G-IA in Europe, 6G Forum in Korea and the Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium in Japan are some of the leading organizations that are currently working on the research phase of future 6G systems.

According to Sarah LaSelva, director of 6G marketing at Keysight Technologies, there is great interest from governments globally to kickstart 6G research and bring all these different research bodies together. “So far, these collaborations have been largely successful in bringing together researchers from across the ecosystem.  White papers from these groups are being produced that present a harmonized view of what 6G needs to focus on to be successful, which is an improvement over 5G.  Government funded projects, with a range of funding methods and collaboration with industry and academia, are emerging as well. It’s still too early to say if these projects will be successful, but as of now, it feels like progress,” LaSelva added.

“Academic institutions play a vital role in exploring the potential of 6G. We believe it is important to get involved now and to allow disruptive and productive areas of research to see their ideas come to fruition ahead of formal standards definitions,” said Ian Wong, director of RF and wireless architecture at Viavi Solutions.

Viavi has already supported research activities at Northeastern University and the University of Texas at Austin in the U.S. and the University of Surrey in the U.K. The firm is also involved in research activities in regional consortiums including the Next G Alliance in North America, Europe’s 6G BRAINS project and Japan’s Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium.

“Collaboration is absolutely critical. Nokia is engaging with major industry peers, customers, academia and research institutions globally to form a common view and direction for 6G. Our current key engagements span the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific. For example, Nokia leads Hexa-X, the EU’s flagship research initiative with strong participation from CSPs, major industry, SMEs and academic stakeholders. The goal is to develop a foundation for 6G and industry consensus beyond 5G,” said Mikko Uusitalo, head of the research department of wireless advanced technologies at Nokia Bell Labs Finland.

“In late 2020, we were really just at the beginning of all the discussion around 6G. What we’ve seen over the last two years is there has been a tremendous focus now placed on 6G research across industry, government and academia. And so, within the Next G Alliance, the goal was to try to join together what industry sees as key technology development areas, what academia sees as key research areas to join those capabilities together, and to provide a more kind of coherent outcome around 6G very early in the process,” said Mike Nawrocki, managing director of the Next G Alliance. “So, essentially, between now and when 6G standards work initiates, which would probably be in late 2026, beginning of 2027, we are in a very critical research period.  It’s really important that we have this cooperation because research can go in many different directions and it’s important that we have an overall alignment on the key priority for 6G,” Nawrocki added.

RCR Wireless News published an editorial report about future 6G technology dubbed “What problems will the next generation of cellular solve and how?” in which key industry leaders talk about the future development of 6G technology. Click here to access the report.