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Top 10 challenges of 6G.

Nov 18, 2021

From "best effort" to "certainty"

For a long time, because of the attribute of IP protocol, mobile Internet provides "best-effort" service. In the 4G era, because the Internet mainly connects people, this "best-effort" approach can meet people's connection needs. After all, slight network delays and packet losses generally do not affect our experience of online shopping or even watching videos online.
However, the connection range of 5G and 6G networks will expand from people to everything, which requires that the network must be able to provide low delay and high reliable deterministic services, otherwise it may affect the continuous and stable production of enterprises. For this reason, 5G can provide end-to-end network service capability that SLA can guarantee by introducing network slicing, MEC and other technologies. Facing the future 6G era, as the network penetrates into more industries and more scenes, it is necessary to further enhance the deterministic service capability of the network.
Openness and customization.

On the one hand, it is well known that openness and sharing are the core spirit of the Internet, and promote the continuous prosperity and development of the Internet; on the other hand, mobile communication networks have been using more proprietary technology, and the ecology is more closed. To some extent, it limits its own development.
In the 5G era, in order to enable the digital transformation of various industries, mobile networks must promote the integration of CT and IT with a more open attitude, so as to give birth to rich industry innovation applications and promote ecological prosperity. As we can see today, 5G has been integrated with cloud computing, edge computing and AI technology, and has hatched a large number of industry applications such as AI quality inspection, 5G remote control and so on. Leading operators and suppliers have created open and flexible MEC edge cloud platforms that open network capabilities, IT capabilities, tools and application components through API, allowing third-party developers and industry partners to quickly customize the development, deployment and launch of new applications according to their business needs. Entering the 6G era, this open and customized capability will continue to evolve, and will provide industry customers with more agile and friendly services through the API interface to better meet the needs of customers to configure the network and customize applications.

Artificial intelligence network.

Today, artificial intelligence has been applied in many fields, such as AI image recognition, speech recognition and automatic translation. On the one hand, with the continuous development of network services, there are more stringent requirements for network delay, reliability, user experience and other KPI indicators; on the other hand, as the network becomes more and more complex, it becomes more challenging to maintain and improve network KPI by traditional manual methods. In order to meet the challenges, operators and equipment manufacturers are also introducing AI into the network to promote the transformation of network automation and intelligence.
However, to maximize the value of the AI engine, it needs a huge amount of data "feeding" and computing resources to enable. For the future automatic and intelligent network, the AI engine can not only be deployed in a certain location or on a certain device, but on the whole network with massive data and unlimited computing resources, so that intelligence can be injected into the whole network to maximize the potential of AI and the network.
Therefore, the artificial intelligence network in the future 5G and 6G era needs AI and the network to empower each other. On the one hand, the AI enabling network is upgraded to automation and intelligence. On the other hand, the network should also empower AI to give full play to its maximum value. Specifically, it relies on the low-delay and large-bandwidth characteristics of 5G/6G network to allow training data and AI/ML models to flow in all aspects of the cloud side, fully releasing computing power with efficient transport power, so as to achieve higher quality network and AI service capabilities in a lower-cost way.

100% coverage.

We have entered the era of "one mobile phone all over the world", but this data may surprise you-there are still more than 3 billion people around the world who do not have access to the Internet, in part because it is too expensive to install base stations and fiber optic cables in remote areas, or because of geographical constraints, it is impossible to carry out network construction at all.
In order to achieve 100% global coverage, it has become a consensus in the industry to build a three-dimensional network of air-space-earth integration in the 6G era. To put it simply, it is to deploy the base station on the stratospheric high-altitude platform and low-orbit satellite to let the network signal "fall from the sky" to supplement the ground mobile network coverage, especially to solve the network coverage in remote areas such as mountain area, sea area, grassland, desert and so on. It remains to be seen whether this approach is low in cost and return on investment, but take a longer view, paving the way for future emerging applications such as autopilot, flying taxis and drone delivery.
Terahertz communication.

If the spectrum resource allocation of mobile communication network is compared to a pioneering journey, the "wasteland" to be developed in the 5G era is the millimeter wave band, while in the 6G era, it is the terahertz band, which is usually referred to as the frequency range from 100GHz to 10THz. These frequency bands are uncultivated virgin land, not only with a large area (wide bandwidth), but also unpolluted pure land. The wireless industry can use it freely and freely without worrying about interference.
But the problem is, just as today's millimeter wave still faces problems such as weak coverage, high cost of building a network, and immature terminal ecology, it is estimated that terahertz in the 6G era will also face similar problems, which need to be solved by the industry.
Perception and location.

Up to now, mobile operators only use wireless spectrum for communication, but in the 6G era, wireless spectrum can be used not only for communication, but also for sensing and positioning functions. as a result, communication, environment awareness and location tracking services can be provided through the network and base stations, enabling a large number of emerging applications. For example, wireless signals can be used to recognize other people's gestures and gestures, and the environment of people and machines to enrich and enhance the user experience; by sensing ambient temperature, humidity, vibration, air quality, etc., to better ensure the stable operation of various industries and smart cities; to better serve self-driving through wireless beam identification of vehicles, pedestrians and roadblocks; and to enrich new indoor services through highly accurate positioning.

Maximize spectrum utilization.

Wireless spectrum is a scarce resource and an important carrier to promote continuous innovation in digital society. In the mobile era, countries have created the system of authorized spectrum auction or distribution, which has promoted the vigorous development of mobile network and mobile life. However, past success is not always a reference for the future. in the traditional way, the allocation of special frequency bands for different operators and different network systems has gradually caused the problems of spectrum fragmentation, idle spectrum and inadequate utilization, which aggravates the contradiction between spectrum supply and demand and lowers the spectrum efficiency.
In this regard, entering the 6G era, the wireless industry may re-examine the traditional spectrum allocation mechanism and further evolve the dynamic spectrum sharing technology, through the introduction of AI, block chain and other technologies to achieve more intelligent and dynamic spectrum allocation, control and scheduling, in order to maximize the spectrum efficiency. At the same time, technologies such as continuous evolution of Massive MIMO, more active and accurate radio resource scheduling and allocation will continue to improve spectrum efficiency.
network security.

To support the development of digital economy, network security is the top priority. In the 5G era, network security, like low delay, high reliability and large bandwidth capacity, is one of the current 5G value propositions. Entering the 6G era, technologies such as post-quantum cryptography (PQC) and quantum key distribution (QKD) may be applied to the network to ensure the super security of the network. For example, quantum random number generator (QRNG) and quantum key distribution (QKD) are used to make both sides of the communication generate and share a random and secure key to encrypt and decrypt messages to ensure the security of communication.

Elasticity, redundancy and self-healing.
With the infiltration of 5G/6G into thousands of industries, it has become the base and cornerstone to support digital production, operation and management, which puts forward higher and higher requirements for the reliability and stability of the network. Facing the future, the industry should re-examine the traditional network architecture and strive to build a flexible, redundant and self-healing network to provide stable network services even in the event of network failure.

Green and low carbon.

Promoting green and low-carbon transformation is not only the common goal of all countries in the world, but also the inevitable trend of the development of ICT industry. In the face of the double growth of network data traffic and rising network energy consumption, for operators, to build a green and low-carbon network is not only the only way to reduce the cost of network OPEX, but also to fulfill the social responsibility. In the future, intelligent networks with perception and end-to-end introduction of AI will help operators achieve the goal of energy saving and emission reduction.

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