Welcome to Disruptive 6G, a new project to analyse, predict and advise on developments in the next generation of wireless technology. We are Charlotte Patrick and Dean Bubley, two seasoned technology analysts with expertise from spectrum policy and cellular business models, through to virtualisation and AI.
We’ll be posting articles and shorter posts on 6G quite regularly, along with commentary on news and events we find interesting and relevant. Most of these will also be cross-posted to our personal blogs and LinkedIn pages as well, where there may be more interactive comment threads.
There may well be occasional doses of sarcasm, snark and cynicism. We’re not fans of groupthink, hype or lobbyists’ favourite tropes and cliches.
Together with our friends at STL Partners [https://stlpartners.com/?s=6g&submit=Search] we wrote and published a report on 6G Hype and Reality in mid-2022. This is what we said at the time, about our broad expectations for 6G’s evolution over the next few years:
- We’ll get the usual impressive headline numbers for downlink & uplink speeds, and improvements to latency… but it’s not clear whether they’ll map to actual user experience
- Like 5G, we expect 6G to arrive in phases. What’s called 6G on Day 1 may well be 5G+ rather than anything radically new
- We should describe 6G / IMT2030 as AI-native, in the same way that 5G is seen as cloud native
- It seems likely that there will be more satellite / non-terrestrial integration, even in the early stages of 6G
- It’s boring, but expect 6G to improve mobile broadband capacity-density & also FWA (fixed wireless access) capabilities
- We can expect some form of RAN disaggregation / Open RAN approach to be baked into the main 3GPP 6G standards, rather than left to parallel groups like O-RAN and SCF
- Many researchers’ “pet projects” pitched for 6G might not make the cut. Visible light, THz, underwater networks etc all seem a bit far-fetched as core parts of the technology. Smart surfaces are interesting, though – but it’s hard to gauge the realistic speed of commercialisation
- It is too hard to project whether there will be a single unified 6G standard, or multiple regional variations driven by geopolitical factors. There may be completely distinct technologies, harking back to 3G and UMTS vs. CDMA2000 vs. TD-SCDMA, or perhaps there will be broadly similar regional “flavours” that make gateways and interoperability easier.
- There could also be non-3GPP technologies pitched for ITU2030 status, just as DECT is official type of 5G. Wi-Fi9, maybe?
- 6G will likely be designed for a wider group of network owners than traditional MNOs. Private networks, muncipalities, neutral hosts, cloud 6G-aaS models etc will be assumed as key stakeholder groups. While 5G enables some “verticals”, the initial assumptions were for these to be primarily addressed by MNOs. In 6G, non-MNOs will be (or should be) considered “first class citizens”, rather than mere “non-public networks”
- Hopefully, 6G will be designed to be “indoor-optimised” upfront as much as possible, as well as being inherently friendly to different models of network/spectrum sharing and neutral-host business model. These should be baked in upfront, not retrofitted as an afterthought.
- There is clearly going to be a huge emphasis on sustainability for 6G. Not just trite & largely meaningless metrics like energy/bit, but greater emphasis on efficiency, sustainable materials, renewable power use and more. A lot of this will apply to 5G and other technologies, not just 6G, though
- Please can we ditch the hype about 6G “sensory Internet” (or 3D smell-o-vision) and Metaverse applications? It risks being as cringeworthy as autonomous vehicles & remote surgery were for 5G
- We really hope the industry doesn’t create another awful 5G-era triangle chart of use-cases. Hopefully terms like “remote surgery” will be banished as well.