NTT Docomo is Hoping to Repeat 5G Experimental Trials Success with 6G

Back in 2015, NTT Docomo started 5G experimental trials with eight leading mobile technology vendors to figure out what would work and what wouldn't. The following are the details of their trials:

  • Alcatel-Lucent: Candidate waveforms to support mobile broadband and M2M in sub-2GHz (details).
  • Huawei: Beamforming with channel reciprocity and advanced multiple access in sub-6GHz (details).
  • Fujitsu: Coordinated scheduling for super dense base stations using RRH in sub-6GHz (details).
  • NEC: Time-domain beamforming with very large number of antennas in sub-6GHz (details).
  • Ericsson: New Radio interface concept and massive MIMO in 6-30 GHz band.
  • Samsung: Super-wideband hybrid beamforming and beam tracking in 6-30 GHz band.
  • Mitsubishi Electric: Multi-beam multiplexing for very large number of antennas in mmWave band (details).
  • Nokia: Super-wideband single carrier transmission and beamforming in mmWave band

Details from these trials are documented in NTT Docomo Technical Journal here. This video below was posted after successfully conducting world's first 5G wireless communication experiment in a mobile environment at 300km/h.

This week, NTT Docomo and NTT announced that they will collaborate with world-leading mobile technology vendors Fujitsu, NEC, and Nokia to conduct experimental trials of new mobile communications technologies for the targeted commercial launch of 6G services by around 2030.

Launching the envisioned 6G services will require verification of numerous new mobile technologies, including those needed to newly use frequencies in the millimeter and sub-terahertz (above 6 GHz) bands, in addition to bands for existing 5G services. The trials are also expected to verify AI-based wireless transmission methods. DOCOMO and NTT will jointly conduct experimental trials with the three vendors, focusing on mobile technologies using new 6G frequency bands and AI-based wireless technology among these various mobile technologies.

The new 6G system will greatly exceed the performance of 5G and simultaneously provide high-speed, large capacity, and low latency capabilities, use new high-frequency bands such as sub-terahertz bands above 100 GHz, expand communication coverage in the sky, at sea and in space, and enable both ultra-low-power consumption and low-cost communications.

The realization of 6G is one of the most important goals envisaged in the NTT group's Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) project for launching all-new communication infrastructure. Aiming to realize "5G Evolution & 6G powered by IOWN," DOCOMO and NTT are actively conducting 6G research and development combining NTT's optical and wireless technologies with DOCOMO's mobile technologies.

DOCOMO and NTT will begin conducting indoor trials within the fiscal year ending in March 2023, and outdoor trials will begin in the following fiscal year. The trials are expected to verify concepts proposed so far by DOCOMO and NTT and will be reported in global research groups, international conferences and standardization activities related to 6G, and will serve as a foundation for more advanced technologies.

Through their 6G trials with the three abovementioned vendors as well as other partners, DOCOMO and NTT look forward to accelerating the global standardization and commercialization of 6G.

Details of the trials, etc., will be disclosed in the forthcoming years. NTT Docomo has always been a pioneer for new technologies so we are looking forward to the details.

It is worth pointing out that mmWave hasn't delivered the promises and potential that was talked about for a very long time. Majority of the 5G networks today are using the C-band spectrum for delivering capacity and low-band for delivering coverage. 6G will be no different. Everyone is hoping that in the meantime, 5G mmWave killer use case will be found.

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