ITEM: NTT DoCoMo and NTT say they will partner with Fujitsu, NEC, and Nokia to conduct experimental trials of 6G technologies – with Nokia apparently throwing a thinly veiled metaverse angle in the mix.
To clarify, neither the DoCoMo release nor the separate Nokia release feature the word “metaverse”. However, the Nokia release describes 6G as something that will “fuse the human, physical and digital worlds to liberate our innate human potential”.
Which is pretty much what companies pushing the metaverse say the metaverse will do.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that 6G – a technology that is perhaps ten years away from serious commercialization – is being pitched as an enabling technology for the metaverse, which is also perhaps ten years away from serious commercialization. (DoCoMo says it’s aiming to launch its first commercial 6G services in 2030, but – as with 5G – it may take a couple more years for the rest of the world to get past the trial phase.)
That said, 5G will be doing plenty of metaverse-enabling between now and 6G. On the other hand, 5G will only be able to take the metaverse so far. 6G is widely touted as the way to take networks to all new levels, and it’s very likely to take the metaverse along with it – even though no one’s really sure exactly what the metaverse will look like in actual practice.
The same could be said for 6G, but after a couple of years of speculation, we do know that 6G – apart from being a lot faster than 5G with even lower latencies, which is obvious – will likely make use of THz bands, with the 140-GHz band attracting initial interest. It will also leverage mobile edge computing, AI, cognitive, automated and specialized architectures, and it will have better sensing and location capabilities.
All of which the metaverse will find some use for, certainly.
In the meantime, DoCoMo and NTT will initially focus on two proof-of-concepts for 6G under the announced partnership: an AI native air interface and sub-THz radio access.
DoCoMo and NTT will work with Nokia to show that an AI-based 6G air interface can (1) support beamformed access in the 140-GHz band with high data rates, and (2) outperform a conventional air interface.
The collaboration with NEC will focus on distributed MIMO transmission in THz bands and OAM multiplexing transmission. Fujitsu will also develop distributed MIMO transmission for the 100-GHz and 300-GHz bands.
DoCoMo and NTT say they will begin conducting indoor trials within the fiscal year ending in March 2023, and outdoor trials will begin in the following fiscal year.