10 Trends of the Mobile Industry: The Road to 6G

10 Trends of the Mobile Industry: The Road to 6G

With 6G, mobile communications will play an essential role in the digital and networked future. Providers and users will have to adapt to these ten trends by 2030. […]

Since its availability in 2019, the 5G mobile communications standard has undergone considerable development. In the meantime, 176 commercial 5G networks with more than 1.5 million base stations have been set up worldwide, which – at least in theory – supply over 500 million users.

But while the possibilities of 5G in the private and corporate environment are still barely exhausted, mobile operators and equipment suppliers are already thinking about the further development, keyword 5.5 or even 6G. Huawei, for example, is convinced that the digital and the physical world will be deeply interwoven by 2030 to create an almost real experience. Mobile networks are to be an important part of the intelligent world in 2030. At the Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) in Dubai, David Wang, Executive Director of the Board of Huawei and Chairman of the ICT Infrastructure Managing Board, presented the ten most important trends for the future of the mobile industry.

According to Wang, AR and VR are already creating better simulated experiences, but this is just the beginning. The future will offer virtual experiences that are even more real, interactive and immersive. Mobile networks will be able to offer on-demand experiences that extend what we can see, hear, smell and touch from anywhere in the world.

The prerequisite for this, according to Wang: in order to enable these functions, mobile networks would have to support 10 Gbit/s with a latency of one millisecond everywhere and transmit information in a semantically better organized way.

The second trend concerns the 100 billion IoT connections of a digital society that mobile networks must support by 2030. As Wang points out, almost 300 million IoT devices have been connected via narrowband IoT so far, but the maximum transmission capacity is severely limited. 5G NR (New Radio) can provide the required high bandwidth, but is not yet cost-efficient enough for most scenarios.

But with the digital society, not only the number of IoT connections is to increase continuously, the requirements are also becoming more and more diverse. Industries such as healthcare and manufacturing require a high uplink rate, low latency and high reliability, Wang explains. In other industries such as logistics and environmental monitoring, on the other hand, the devices transmit only small amounts of data, but must remain on standby for several years. In such cases, a new form of wireless IoT is needed, which is characterized by extremely low power consumption and passive connections.

David Wang, Executive Director of the Board of Huawei and Chairman of the ICT Infrastructure Managing Board, at the Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) in Dubai (c) Huawei

Despite all these different requirements, a single powerful network is needed to integrate all IoT connections across all scenarios, according to the Huawei manager.

Wang sees the third trend as the increased integration of various network coverage methods. In this way, not only the problem that three billion people do not yet have access to the Internet is to be solved. By combining satellites and standard networks, it would also be able to cover 100 percent of the globe. In addition, this would also achieve a 3D coverage for the ground-based space to enable the communication and control of aircraft such as drones and aircraft.

From a technical point of view, network protocols, frequencies and devices would have to be integrated, according to the Huawei manager. In addition, for example, multi-antenna and radio multiplexing technologies could improve satellite coverage and spectrum efficiency.

Huawei expects that autonomous driving will be fully commercialized within the next decade. For this and for the control of delivery drones, however, more advanced sensor technology and communication would then also be needed, Wang explains. These made it possible to better recognize objects and movements – up to the dynamic creation of multidimensional digital maps of the physical world.

With ultra-wideband and massive MIMO, scanning at the centimeter level can be achieved. In addition, the cross-site cooperation of radio-based systems and intelligent high-resolution algorithms makes it possible to expand the detection range and to realize continuous detection without blind spots.

Not only will vehicles become autonomous, Wang says that by 2030, mobile networks will also support automated operation and maintenance processes using AI to achieve better performance and a lower CO2 footprint. You will receive policies that specify how you should behave with certain requirements.

The basis is the status information about yourself and your environment reported by the base stations in real time. With the help of models with digital twins, self-optimization of network performance could gradually replace manual, experience-based optimization, the Huawei manager predicts. The radio interfaces, which are the most complex part of the wireless networks, would then also have their own intelligence. In summary, Wang estimates that this could improve performance and energy efficiency by 50 percent.

Huawei expects network traffic to increase a hundredfold in a fully connected digital world. As a consequence, solutions are needed to reduce the energy consumption of the network, Wang explains: energy efficiency must be taken into account in every aspect of network design, including radio interfaces, devices and locations.

For example, Baseband units can be installed centrally. In addition, near field networks made it possible to build sites closer to users and reduce the transmission power of the network. With the help of AI, unused network segments could be put into deep sleep in order to reduce energy consumption.

With the predicted increase in data traffic by 2030, the demand for bandwidth and thus spectrum is of course also growing. Wang estimates that, on average, about 2 GHz of additional bandwidth would have to be allocated to mobile phone use in the range below 100 GHz. In addition, it would be necessary to free the entire 20 GHz band for millimeter waves.

The carriers, in turn, are required to support the development of the sub-100 GHz spectrum into New Radio. It is true that the combination of bands below 100 GHz with discrete frequencies is still a challenge, because, for example, bands in low frequency ranges offer greater coverage but lower bandwidth, while high bands are ideal for traffic hotspots. However, the Huawei manager estimates that spectrum efficiency can be increased tenfold with the help of multiband integration and other innovative technologies.

Sustainable wireless networks require more cost-effective data transmission. According to Wang, multi-antenna technologies will be increasingly used in all frequency ranges and all scenarios by 2030: with the development of multiband to 5G, modular ultra-wideband antennas based on metamaterials will be able to flexibly combine hardware and software via multiband modules. This will make it possible to use bands below 100 GHz on the same module, thereby greatly simplifying the site configuration. In addition, multi-antenna solutions will reduce transmission costs by a hundredfold.

With the increasing importance of mobile networks, especially in industry, network security and reliability are becoming more and more important. Secure and resilient mobile networks require both intrinsic device security and intelligent and simplified security at the network level. In the future, simplified service security will be required, explains the Huawei manager, not only to achieve integrated protection at the network element level, but also to repel threats at the network level with one click and achieve one-stop service at the application level. Intrinsic device safety, in turn, creates the basis for stronger protection and higher efficiency while reducing the number of nodes.

Future mobile networks will support more diverse services, such as the Metaverse, industrial networks and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication. This means that data processing must be seamlessly integrated into mobile networks to provide uninterrupted, high-quality on-demand services, Wang explains. This is the only way for operators to flexibly improve the service experience and develop new business models that integrate computer and network services. In addition, a mobile computer network will significantly improve the efficiency of services in all industries.

*Manfred Bremmer deals with (almost) everything that falls into the fields of mobile computing and communications. He prefers to take a close look at mobile solutions, operating systems, apps and devices and checks them for their business suitability. Bremmer is interested in ffor gadgets of all kinds and also tests them.

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