When you see a headline in an email that says ‘First ever 6G Symposium’ your heart drops. Your reaction is ‘we haven’t got 5G sorted yet, how can we even begin to think about the next ‘G’’. What more can we do with speed and latency and the IoT.
Some months ago, when the initiator of the race for 6G, the University of Oulu in Finland, announced that 6G was coming and will be here as soon as 2030, an amusing Twitter exchange took place between us and Rob Chambers over at Total Telecom. We instantly devised an event called ‘6G World Congress’ and instantly decided that Barcelona towards the end of February would be the perfect place to host the event, as it was bound to be nice and quiet at that time of year.
Yet 6G is already becoming a ‘thing’ and deserves our attention. The speaker line up for the first symposium boasts nearly 40 speakers, from Universities, Regulators, technology companies, including Google and Facebook, and the hosts, InterDigital.
One problem with 6G, of course, is the sense of Deja Vue it brings. Are we set for a repeat of the 5G cycle, which frankly we are only just getting over? The academics, the standards, the hype, the hype and more hype. And finally, something concrete (digital concrete, of course).
Dig a little, though, and you find some interesting ideas.
For a start, the group wants to align the development of 6G with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), both of which are aiming to launch in 2030. The linkage between the two (as yet under-defined) “is built on the envisaged three-fold role of 6G as:
1) a provider of services to help steer and support communities and countries towards reaching the UN SDGs;
2) a measuring tool for data collection to help the reporting of indicators with hyperlocal granularity;
3) a reinforcer of new ecosystems based on 6G technology enablers and 6G networks of networks to be developed in line with the UN SDGs which incorporates future mobile communication technologies which will be available in 2030.
The vision is grand and the support already seems to be building.
What is refreshing is that the group is not (by any means) a standalone unit that will solely beat the drum of a new G – the implication being that 5G was not up to much. Indeed the first aim of the group itself is to “to support industry in finalisation of the 5G standard”, make sure the technology is as good as it gets and “ to speed up the digitalisation of society via targeted application areas”.
On reflection, therefore, 6G should be welcomed and supported, even as we are exhausted (but exhilarated) by the potential and early success of 5G.
The continuum of ‘Gs’, er, continues.
Let us hope that our politicians stay well out of the way, after all, they are increasingly realising that new technology – and ‘winning’ digital races – can become crusades and crusades can win votes.