Broadband India Forum (BIF) organised a session of ‘The Digital Dialogues’ on ‘6G: Future Vision and Perspectives’, on the occasion of the BIF annual general meeting (AGM) held on September 20, 2022, with K. Rajaraman, chairperson, Digital Communications Commission (DCC) and secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), as chief guest. Post the BIF AGM, The Digital Dialogues session was held, wherein a BIF Compendium on thoughts and perspectives by experts on the topic of ‘6G – The Future Digital Technology’, was released by the chief guest.

The BIF 6G Compendium is a collection of thought-provoking and interesting perspectives and viewpoints from leading academic and industry experts, on various aspects of this futuristic subject.

Speaking at the event, T.V. Ramachandran, president, BIF, said, “Across the globe – whether it be Finland, Japan, South Korea, China, the US as well as India, the idea of 6G has initiated a paradigm shift in terms of facilitating various research activities to bring this new generation of digital technology into reality by 2030. For India, research and development on 6G is crucial at this stage to gain a global leadership position. This 6G Compendium is intended to provide useful inputs for determining the future engagements and advances that we need to make towards gaining global competencies and leadership in 6G.”

Some of the major views/perspectives observed from the expert contributions to the compendium indicate that 6G is envisioned to be as follows:

  • 6G is all about convergence of the physical and the virtual, the connected world with the hyper-connected world, the universe with the metaverse, the real with the surreal, and likewise.
  • 6G networks are expected to function as the fabric of the converged physical and digital worlds, providing intelligence, limitless connectivity and complete synchronisation.
  • A foundational feature for 6G – ‘sensing’ is a new channel that would observe, sample and link the physical and biological worlds to the cyber world.
  • In the 6G era, we are likely to see applications that will not only connect humans with machines besides machines to machines, but also connect humans with the digital world:
    • Digital twins of networks, assets, processes, systems will come together at scaleand holographic telepresence will become the norm for work and social interaction.
    • Dynamic digital twins with increasingly accurate, synchronous updates of the physical world will be an essential platformfor augmenting human intelligence.
  • 6G is predicted to be a disaggregated, virtualised, and scalable network comprising of smaller network functions with granular functionality, which will enable application-specific protocol processing.
  • 6G is envisioned to be majorly experience-centric and is expected to bring about the implementation of a ‘sense-detect-act-correct’ paradigm.
  • The millimetre wave frequency bands in the 24 GHz to 52 GHz range, pioneered by 5G and likely to soon be extended up to 100 GHz, will naturally be used by 6G. The 7–24 GHz range can be exploited for 6G by deploying advanced sharing
  • 6G communication systems are expected to be featured by the following types of key performance indicators (KPI)-associated services:
    • Ubiquitous mobile ultra-broadband (uMUB)
    • Ultra-high-speed with low-latency communications (uHSLLC)
    • Massive machine-type communication (mMTC)
    • Ultra-high data density (uHDD)
  • There is a heightened focus on energy consumption and energy-saving techniquesanticipated to be in the 6G system. 6G systems will also likely demand independent, vendor-agnostic testing and validation.
  • There are four broad drivers expected for the 6G networks – trustworthiness, sustainable world, simplified life and new application demands.
  • Evolution on the path to 6G is envisioned to comprise foundational air interface innovations (advanced MIMO, mobile mmWave, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled air interface, etc.) and expansion to new applications (wide-area IoT expansion, industrial precise positioning, industrial 5G, etc.).
  • It is anticipated that the global standards organisations like International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shall be releasing the IMT-2030 document for 6G in 2030.
  • Other standards organisations viz. 3GPP, IEEE, and regional standards bodies of Korea, Japan and India are working to develop their own standards around the same timelines. Standardisation- phase 1 is likely to start from 2025, leading to the first 6G specification to be ready by 3GPP Release 21 in 2028. It will be followed by commercial deploymentsaround 2030.
  • 6G is projected to employ cell-less access networks, integrated non-terrestrial networks, joint sensing and communications, new spectrums such as terahertz (THz) communications, will support open interfaces that interconnect all network functions, end-to-end orchestrators, and, most noticeably, AI machinesthat govern all functional modules and operational services.