5G Advanced is expected to develop 5G to its fullest capabilities and is an important stepping stone for some of the use case capabilities that the industry wants to enable at a larger scale in the 6G era, Mikko Uusitalo, head of Radio Systems Research Finland at Nokia Bell Labs and lead for European 6G Flagship Hexa-X, told RCR Wireless News.

“With 5G-Advanced, AI/ML will be introduced to many parts of the network at many layers and in many functions. From the optimization of beam forming in the radio layer to scheduling at the cell site with self-optimizing networks, all using AI/ML to achieve better performance at lower complexity. In 6G, Nokia expects AI/ML will go from an enhancement to a foundation by taking a clean slate approach, where we do away with the complexity, and let AI/ML figure out how to best communicate between two endpoints,” Uusitalo said.

“While 5G-Advanced will expand 5G beyond just data communication and substantially improve positioning accuracy to centimeter-level, especially for indoors and underground facilities where satellite signals are unavailable, 6G will take localization to the next level by taking advantage of wide spectrum and new spectral ranges all the way up to terahertz,” he added.

According to the Nokia researcher, as-yet-unstandardized 6G systems are expected to be commercially launched by 2030, while the first phase of standardization will likely start from 2025, leading to the first 6G specification in 3GPP Release 21 by 2028 followed by commercial deployments around 2030. “Meanwhile, 5G will be enhanced by 5G-Advanced, which will be a key focus for 3GPP in Release 18 & 19 onwards and will power commercial public and private networks starting in 2025 onwards, well before 6G arrives at the end of the decade,” Uusitalo said.

Commenting on the potential features of future 6G networks, he noted that in the 6G era, the digital, physical and human world will seamlessly fuse to trigger extrasensory experiences. Uusitalo highlighted that Intelligent knowledge systems will be combined with robust computation capabilities to make humans endlessly more efficient.

“One of the most notable aspects of 6G will be its ability to sense the environment. The network will become a source of situational information, gathering signals that are bouncing off objects and determining type and shape, relative location, velocity and perhaps even material properties. This sensing network would open the door for many new services. In outdoor environments, the network could detect the location, speed and trajectory of all vehicles and pedestrians in an area, issuing warnings if any of their paths are about to intersect,” Uusitalo said. “Factories could use network sensing to make it safer for humans and industrial robots to work side-by-side on the shop floor. At work or at home, the network could detect if a vulnerable person has fallen, alerting emergency responders about possible trauma. All these will be done with higher levels of network security and cyber-resilience, and with CSPs continuing to act as a trusted party.”

He also highlighted that 6G will build on top of 5G in terms of many of the technological and use case aspects, and at the same time, 6G will enable new use cases.

“Digital twin models are already being used with 5G. With 6G, we can expect these technologies to operate at a much larger scale. Digital twins will be found not only in factories but also in wide area networks of cities and even digital twins of humans,” the executive added.

RCR Wireless News published an editorial report about future 6G technology dubbed “Is it really time to start talking about 6G?”, in which key industry leaders and analysts talk about the initial efforts towards the future development of 6G. Click here to access the report.

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