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The Vision and Requirements of the 6G Systems

Stanford University_121121A
[Stanford University - Andrew Brodhead]


- The Vision of the 6G Systems

6G will be like 5G, but more so. Even higher speeds, even lower latency, and masses of bandwidth. Researchers and scientists are talking about 6G going beyond a “wired” network, with devices acting as antennas using a decentralized network not under the control of a single network operator. If everything connects using 5G, 6G will set these connected devices free, as higher data speeds and lower latency make instant device-to-device connection possible.

The researchers around the globe are proposing cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML), quantum communication/quantum machine learning (QML), blockchain, tera-Hertz and millimeter waves communication, tactile Internet, non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA), small cells communication, fog/edge computing, etc., as the key technologies in the realization of beyond 5G and 6G communications. I

The vision of future 6G wireless system, network architecture, and its emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, terahertz communications, optical wireless technology, free space optic network, blockchain, three dimensional networking, quantum communications, unmanned aerial vehicle, cell-free communications, integration of wireless information and energy transfer, integration of sensing and communication, integration of access-backhaul networks, dynamic network slicing, holographic beamforming, and big data analytics that can assist the 6G architecture development in guaranteeing the QoS. 


- The Requirements of the 6G Systems

The 6G systems aim to achieve high spectral and energy efficiency, low latency, and massive connectivity because of extensive growth in the number of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices. These IoT devices will realize advanced services such as smart traffic, environment monitoring, and control, virtual reality (VR)/virtual navigation, telemedicine, digital sensing, high definition (HD), and full HD video transmission in connected drones and robots. 

IoT devices are predicted to reach 25 billion by the year 2025, and therefore, it is very challenging for the existing multiple access techniques to accommodate such a massive number of devices. Even 5G systems, which are being rolled out in the world at the moment, cannot support such a high number of IoT devices. Third generation partnership project (3GPP) is already working on the development of 5G standard and has identified massive machine type communication (mMTC), ultra-reliable and low latency communication (URLLC), and enhanced mobile broad band (eMBB) as three main use cases for 5G in its Release 13 (R13). 

At the same time, algorithms for the next generation (6G) communication systems, which will have the performance higher than that of existing 5G networks, are being developed. A typical 5G communication system has the capability to support at most 50,000 IoTs and/or narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) devices per cell. Specifically, a more robust network must be designed to realize the massive access in beyond 5G (B5G)/6G communication systems. 

Currently, there is little information about the standards of 6G. However, it is estimated that the international standardization bodies will sort out the standards for 6G by the year 2030. The work at some of the research centers has shown that 6G will be capable of transmitting a signal at a human computational capability by the year 2035. While the rollout of 5G is still underway, the researchers across the world have started working to bring a new generation of wireless networks.


- AI-Enabled 6G Air Interface

With the completion of the 3GPP Release 16 specification and the acceleration of global 5G commercial use, global interest in 6G has begun to heat up. An interesting and important question is: will the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) eventually alleviate the enormous effort required for future standardization in 6G and beyond?

The potential impact of AI on air interface design and standardization, AI-enabled network architecture, AI-enabled high-level, physical layer, and cross-layer design. Based on these designs, 6G and beyond are expected to enter the AI era in the future.


- The 6G Ecosystem

In the 6G era, the digital, physical and human world will seamlessly fuse to trigger extrasensory experiences. Intelligent knowledge systems will be combined with robust computation capabilities to make humans endlessly more efficient and redefine how we live, work and take care of the planet. 

The 6G ecosystem is a collaborative network of researchers, businesses, and ICT enterprises. It's expected to support technologies like: 

  • Automated cars
  • Smart-home networks
  • E-health
  • Precision health care
  • Smart agriculture
  • Earth monitor
  • Digital twins
  • Cobots
  • Robot navigation

6G will also include features like:

  • Intelligent connected management and control functions
  • Programmability
  • Integrated sensing and communication
  • Reduction of energy footprint
  • Trustworthy infrastructure
  • Scalability
  • Affordability

The FCC estimates that 6G's frequencies will be between 95 GHz to 3 THz, which is 3 to 1,000 times more potent than 5G's frequencies. However, the frequencies are non-ionizing and safe.


[More to come ...]

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