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6G competition is on the rise

Feb.28.2022

 

Around the world, 5G network construction is in progress. Although its commercial value is still in the stage of exploration and expansion, the industry has eagerly started the research on the next generation 6G technology. In particular, as a number of industry organizations, research institutions, communication manufacturers and operators released white papers on 6G to the society, 6G has gradually broken the circle and become one of the hot topics attracting public attention.

 

Why do we need 6G?
6G is the next generation of mobile communication technology, which will continue to break the limitations of communication technology and promote the continuous progress of human society on the basis of 5G.


The development of digital technology will make it possible to create a virtual digital world, and the future of mankind will be a new world in which the real physical world and the virtual digital world are deeply integrated and all things are intelligently connected. For example, the future of terminal devices, touch-screen input will be a thing of the past, through the new man-machine interface, people will even rely on brain sensors to operate the machine. For example, holographic communication and sensory interconnection will be popularized in future work and social activities, and people will be able to realize multi-dimensional sensory integration and response without limitation of time and space. Besides, in the future city, countless intelligent sensors, intelligent robots and driverless vehicles will improve work efficiency and accuracy through mutual cooperation and learning, and calmly deal with various real-time changes.


To meet the needs of these future scenarios, mobile communication networks need to provide faster rates, greater throughput, lower delay, more reliable stability, more intelligent scheduling, lower energy consumption and so on, so as to realize the connection and integration of the physical world and the digital world. This is the problem 6G will solve.


In order for 6G to surpass 5G in speed and bandwidth, the problem of spectrum needs to be solved first. Wireless spectrum is the foundation of the development of mobile communication, and is also a scarce resource. From 1G to 5G, the concentrated use of wireless spectrum is below 6GHz, mainly based on the economic characteristics of low frequency spectrum that can achieve wide coverage, but at the same time, it is limited by the lack of bandwidth and sacrifices the pursuit of higher speed.Therefore, in order to achieve a breakthrough in speed and bandwidth, 5G extends the mobile communication technology to the MMW frequency band of 24GHz to 50GHz for the first time, starting the pioneering journey of mobile communication technology in the high frequency band.In order to achieve higher speed and bandwidth than 5G in the future, 6G will have to tap into higher frequency bands than millimeter wave.


Therefore, the industry generally considers the terahertz band of 100GHz to 10000GHz (or 0.1-10ThZ) as the most likely operating band for 6G. Compared with millimeter wave, terahertz frequency band has higher frequency, larger communication capacity, high transmission rate, strong anti-interference ability and easy to realize the integration of communication and detection. Moreover, it is the only new frequency band to be developed in the electromagnetic spectrum, and has extremely rich spectrum resources. With the help of the large bandwidth characteristics of the terahertz band, it is enough to support the super-high transmission rate and super-large transmission capacity required by 6G. Therefore, the FEDERAL Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States opened the 95GHZ-3000ghz band as the experimental spectrum for 6G technology development in 2020.


Of course, the utilization of the terahertz frequency band still needs to be comprehensively explored. Based on current technical capabilities, the effective coverage radius of the high frequency terahertz base station network is only about 10-50 meters, and the number of base stations required to meet the demand of full coverage of the public network is incalculable. Therefore, 6G research needs to make breakthroughs in new wireless air port technology to solve the economic cost and physical networking problems of the terahertz base station coverage.

 

The global competition for 6G research begins
As a cutting-edge technology, 6G was first studied by academia. The University of Oulu, located in Finland, a telecommunications powerhouse, took the lead in launching the 6G flagship project "6Genesis -- A Wireless Intelligent Society and Ecosystem supporting 6G" in 2018 with the funding of the Finnish government. In March 2019, the University organized and invited 70 communication experts from various countries to hold the world's first 6G Summit.The world's first 6G white paper was published, which promoted the start of 6G research.


Later, with the gradually clear vision of 6G, in order to occupy a commanding position in 6G research, governments around the world began to carry out strategic layout for 6G research and development, and the United States became one of the first countries to jump the gun.


As the 5G deployment in the United States is limited by frequency allocation, there is much interference in the internationally common low frequency band below 6GHz, so the commercial use of millimeter-wave is forced first, which also leads to the slow development of 5G. Therefore, some US officials and experts have advocated that the US should consider skipping 5G and developing 6G directly. As early as September 2018, an official of the FEDERAL Communications Commission (FCC) in the US first publicly anticipated 6G technology, proposing that 6G will use terahertz frequency band and the capacity of 6G base station will reach 1000 times that of 5G base station. In May 2020, ATIS released the 6G Initiative, suggesting that the government should invest additional r&d funds in 6G core technology breakthrough, and encourage the government and enterprises to actively participate in the formulation of national spectrum policy. In August 2020, the Trump administration officially approved the 6G experiment in the United States. Later, the FEDERAL Communications Commission (FCC) opened the 95ghZ-300ghz terahertz frequency band as the experimental spectrum, and started the development of 6G technology in earnest.

 

As the first country in the world to commercialize 5G, South Korea is also one of the earliest countries to develop 6G.The Korea Institute of Communications and Information Science held a 6G Forum in April 2019 to officially announce the start of 6G research. The Ministry of Science, Information and Communication Technology (MSIT) announced in August 2020 the Future Mobile Communication Research and Development Strategy leading the 6G Era. It plans to invest 200 billion won ($168 million) in 6G technology research and development over the next five years to ensure that South Korea will become the first country in the world to commercialize 6G in 2028.
In order to compete with South Korea, Japan took the lead in releasing the outline and Roadmap of 6G Technology Comprehensive Strategic Plan in April and June 2020, the world's first with 6G as the national development goal and initiative. The goal is to achieve a breakthrough in key 6G technologies by 2025, to officially launch 6G networks by 2030, and to have more than 10 percent of 6G technology patents held by Japan.As a result, Japan has become the first country in the world to adopt a 6G national strategy.


The European Union has adopted a multinational overall strategic cooperation model to promote 6G research and development. Since the beginning of 2020, it has successively issued a number of relevant strategies to promote 6G technology development, including shaping Europe's Digital Future, New Industrial Strategy for Europe, and 2030 Digital Guidelines. In January 2021, the EU launched the 6G flagship project HexA-X, bringing together 25 enterprises and scientific research institutions, including communication equipment providers Nokia and Ericsson, communication operators Orange, Telefonica and University of Oulu in Finland. It is planned to invest 80 billion euros in total to build the 6G technology development roadmap in the EU. To promote the eu's competitiveness in global 6G research and development. This is an important step for the EU to bring key industry stakeholders together to advance the 6G.


China's 6G research was also launched early. In June 2019, led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the China IMT-2030 (6G) Propellant Group was established, marking the official launch of China's 6G RESEARCH and development. The members of the promotion group mainly include three major operators, communication equipment manufacturers, universities and research institutions, etc. It has become the main platform for aggregating the strength of China's industries, universities, research institutes and users, promoting China's 6G technology research and carrying out international exchanges and cooperation. In November 2019, led by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National 6G TECHNOLOGY R&D Promotion Working Group and the general expert group were established. The promotion working group is composed of relevant government departments and is responsible for promoting the implementation of 6G technology research and development. The general expert group is composed of 37 experts from universities, research institutes and enterprises. It is mainly responsible for proposing the layout of 6G technology research and technical demonstration, and providing consultation and suggestions for major decisions.


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