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The Race To 6G: Top Universities & Companies Pursuing The Technology
While the world still awaits a complete rollout of the latest 5G network, the 6G network companies are abuzz with the revolutionary 6G technology. It is the newest kid on the tech block with potential that can change the way we view mobile networks. It has the capability to be faster and more evolved. No wonder then that companies and universities alike are clamouring to climb on the bandwagon in order to be the pioneers in 6G tech.
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What is 6G Technology?
6G or 6th generation is a wireless technology that promises greater speeds and more efficiency than ever before by using higher frequency bands and cloud-based networking technology. Some of the advantages of the 6G network are:
- Supports more mobile networks: The 6G tech is capable of supporting a much higher number of mobile networks than previously possible. This will allow for better service and prevent device interference.
- Quicker speeds: This tech is expected to attain speeds of one terabit per second (Tbps). The expected speed of 5G is only 10 Gbps! However, the benefits will only be available to devices using the mmWave spectrum.
- Independent frequencies: The frequency bandwidth of 6G is up to 3.5kHz allows for independent frequencies that can overcome overlapping of channels. Thus, multiple transmissions can occur with more efficient data rates.
- Coverage: 6G offers the widest coverage in terms of geographical area. This translates to a lesser number of towers required to provide network access.
Companies Working on 6G
Companies with the resources to invest are making a beeline for a stake in the 6G pie. Below are some tech companies that have initiated the race with their whitepapers on the technology:
Nokia Bell Labs has contributed substantially to the 6G research in the world. It is also heading Hexa-X, which is the EU’s 6G flagship initiative to research the wireless networks of the next generation. Nokia is also part of the Next G Alliance, an initiative to optimize mobile technology in North America, as well as RINGS, a project led by NSF to jointly advance academic and industry research in the area of networking and computing systems.
The Vivo Communications Research Institute has been fairly active in the 6G domain and released its third paper in 2022, titled "6G Services, Capabilities and Enabling Technologies". The earlier papers titled 'Digital Life 2030+', and '6G Vision, Requirements and Challenges' were released in 2020. Both papers represent Vivo’s vision of 6G and offer insights into the possible scenarios of digital and physical convergence in future. The Vivo paper expects 6G to connect humans to humans as well as humans to machines and machines to machines. Thereby creating an integrated and seamless world.
Samsung first released their 6G vision whitepaper titled “The Next Hyper-Connected Experience for All” in July 2020. It lays out the characteristics of 6G as well as elaborates on the accompanying paraphernalia like societal and technical impact, requirements, the timeline for standardization etc. It predicts 2028 as the earliest commercialization date for 6G. Truly immersive extended reality (XR), high-fidelity mobile hologram and digital replicas are listed as some of the advanced services that would be available. The research for all 6g related technology will be carried out by the newly established Advanced Communications Research Center.
More recently in 2022, Samsung released another paper titled “6G Spectrum: Expanding the Frontier,” outlining ways to achieve the vision shared before.
The company was among the first to publish a whitepaper stating its vision of the 6G tech. Printed in September 2019, the paper proposed using OFDM techniques and virtual massive (VM)-MIMO technology to achieve more efficiency. The company has carried out revisions in their whitepaper, the most recent being in February 2021.
This whitepaper explores the fundamentals of THz waves and their applicability in 6G communications. It focuses on performance requirements of 6G, generation of THz radiation etc. as key research areas.
Universities Working on 6G
Universities too have been at the forefront of the 6G revolution with some of them going beyond research to secure patents. Some universities active in the domain are:
Publication of the 6G Research Visions series was initiated by the University of Oulu to make their finding on 6G available to a larger audience. Among the 12 papers published was also the world’s first ever 6G whitepaper making this university a true pioneer. The papers offer comprehensive coverage of the 6G technology including use cases.
The 2 colleges have come together to establish 6G Futures, which will serve as a centre for research and innovation in the field of 6G. Experts from the King’s Centre for Telecommunication Research (CTR) and the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab will work alongside each other to herald the 6g evolution.
The university is credited with having secured 2 patents in the field of 5G and 6G technologies. Their paper titled “Channel measurements and models for 6G: current status and future outlook” focuses on the channel properties in launching a breakthrough technology like 6G. channel measurements and models are the focus subjects discussed.
A state-of-art facility to test 6G communications is being set up at Glasgow university. This lab will be equipped to test the ability of prototype devices to handle complex signals and waveforms.
6G@UT is the new research centre launched at the University of Texas. AT&T, Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcomm and InterDigital are each funding projects positioned around the 6G technology in the centre. The research will focus on developing wireless-specific algorithms, sensing technologies, and networking innovations that will form the core of 6G.
In their paper named “Towards 6G Networks: Use Cases and Technologies”, the university researchers aim at interpreting the characteristics, advantages, disadvantages, application, and uses of the 6G technology.
The stage is set for innovation in the area of 6G technology companies. The future is buzzing with prospects that the 6G tech has to offer to make mobile communications more reliable and efficient. We are moving at a quick pace from the vision stage to the invention stage which will see inventions that are required to set up the necessary infrastructure to launch the tech.
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