An Introduction to 6G

Will 6G accelerate innovation and new services better than its predecessors? As exciting as it is to envision what future service fulfillment will turn out to be, what commercial value does it hold for CSPs today?

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Joe Hogan, Networks CTO

Amdocs Technology

01 Sep 2023

An Introduction to 6G

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What is it about 6G that is creating such a buzz across the telco industry? The promise of network upgrades and enhanced features are key drivers.

No sooner than we start to see full 5G stand-alone networks going live, attention is starting to turn to 6G. The ITU and 3GPP are targeting a completed 6G standardization process in 2030, keeping with their 10-year “G” cycle.

We are starting to hear some 6G buzz already, with talk of tera-hertz frequencies and hundreds of Gbps data rates. Though exciting, I believe that the important new proposed capabilities lie elsewhere.

Different network types are suited to different scenarios – satellite, wi-fi, fixed, mobile, cable, etc. Getting these networks to operate seamlessly as one bigger network is something on 6G’s proposed capability list. This would make a real difference to end-user and network device usage.

Improving good quality coverage will enhance the end-user experience of applications. This should be addressed by more symmetric interface speeds (mainly faster up-link speeds compared to 5G) and a multi-path radio (where end-user devices are connected to multiple base stations simultaneously). Ensuring a more symmetric interface helps because many more applications are demanding faster uploads (for example HD video). And multi-path helps because with generally higher data-rate needs for applications, being able to spread the data across multiple radios in areas of poor coverage means the application will still be able to get the needed rate for a great end-user experience.

Finally, enhanced location accuracy should enable many more use cases. 6G proposes to offer centimeter-level location accuracy. This will make it much more useful for industrial use cases in and out of the factory.

Here is a more complete list of proposed 6G capabilities.

6G capabilities

Figure: 6G capabilities

These technical features are exciting, but we do need to consider the commercial side. I believe that new revenue streams will be needed to justify the investment in 6G. To this point, we are hearing some operators lobbying for 6G to be more of a simple upgrade cycle, rather than simply another network replacement. And others are saying that they will need to identify the new revenues before investing in 6G.

Multiple use cases are being explored, any of which could be the basis for a new revenue stream. However, the scale and certainty of these revenues are very unclear now. However, a lot can change in the coming years.

So, when are we likely to see 6G on our handsets? But, with the steady growth in IoT, 6G may come to IoT first. I think we will see some limited 6G deployments in the very early 2030s. There is always a rush to be first! Regardless, more comprehensive nationwide 6G network deployments may not occur until the mid-2030s. However, a compelling 6G use case with a significant new revenue stream could quickly bring that date forward!


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