The 6G vision is being formed, while the paint is still not dry on the 5G one

6G vision
Image by Pang-rum | Bigstockphoto

Creating a 6G vision seems both sensible and really dumb. Many operators are still struggling with monetising 5G, but the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN) is off and running with a 6G vision.

Will 6G be just another G or will it have the potential to transform our world in some fundamental ways?

Perhaps the major difference, according to the first whitepaper from the NGMN Alliance, is that the 6G vision needs to match the needs of society and be designed with that in mind. And while that is noble, it is basically about humans working out how technology can make our lives better and save the planet at the same time.

According to our recent summary, the societal goals are to match the ‘United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) such as environmental sustainability, efficient delivery of health care, reduction in poverty and inequality, improvements in public safety and privacy, support for ageing populations, and managing expanding urbanization.’

The other goals are basically increased efficiency for less money and the need to ‘meet customer requirements.’

Whatever those may be.

Not surprisingly, the 6G vision is a little vague and full of warm fuzzy notions and statements about customers and market expectations.

It is easy to be cynical about it, as we at the beginning of the road to figure out 5G – as some stakeholders obviously are, including some operators. Apple, for instance, has pledged $430 billion in its US operations over the next five years, and a fair chunk of that cash is earmarked for 5G. So obviously, Apple has a fair idea about 5G customer expectations.

The hope must be that there will be many ‘aha’ moments around 5G over the next two to three years, and the 6G vision will make more and more sense.

Yet, it could prove a vain hope. By 2030 (or whatever date 6G actually appears), related technologies such as AI will have transformed again into extraordinary powerful and disruptive engines, and we may not be as much in charge of technology as we are right now.

The pandemic has been a tipping point in our journey into a truly digital and increasingly virtual world. The 6G vision can only be an extension of that.

Let us hope we see some true innovation with 5G; then, a sensible 6G vision has a chance of being translated into reality.

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