ITU-R Working Party (WP) 5D Workshop on “IMT for 2030 and beyond”

Back in June, ITU-R Working Party (WP) 5D held a full-day Workshop on “IMT for 2030 and beyond”. The objective was to provide the delegates with an overview of ongoing worldwide research activities, initiatives, and views related to future mobile communications targeting 2030 and beyond. A secondary objective was that this could be used by WP 5D in the development of the new IMT-2030 and beyond recommendation.

The call for participation is available here while the agenda is available here. The workshop page has all the presentations available here. The workshop summary is available here. Registration may be needed to access the presentations and the summary.

The summary document has a nice chart showing the "Keywords in the presentations and mapping with [ 2030 AND Beyond] sections". It can be seen in the picture below.

In our 6G Timeline presentation we provided a roadmap that we see will be best suited for the next generation of mobile technology evolution. Many of the advanced and innovative 5G features are yet to be deployed, tested and experienced. In the absence of these features it is difficult to perceive their effectiveness and enhancements needed in the next evolution.

We can nevertheless speculate what will be needed in 10 years time and work towards making that a reality. To some extent the workshop was like that. 

A Light Reading article nicely summarises the workshop as follows:

Now, the ITU is hoping to gather consensus around 6G. The agency's meeting this week collects 6G associations from all corners of the world: Hexa-X​​ (mostly Europe); one6G Association (Europe and Asia); NextG Alliance​ (North America); IMT-2030 6G Promotion Group (China); TSDSI (India); Radio Research and Development Institute (Russia); and NTRA (Egypt) are among those presenting.

Not surprisingly, some common themes have already developed, based on the presentations the various groups have filed with the ITU in advance of the event. Artificial intelligence, green networks, communications in the terahertz spectrum bands, global coverage and "multidimensional sensing" have been flagged.

However, people familiar with the hype surrounding 5G in the early days of that technology aren't getting excited just yet. "If you replace the number 6 with the number 5, you would not be able to tell the difference – because it's nothing new in there," Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner told Politico recently.

Still, the ITU often represents a starting place for mobile technologies considering that it works to ensure globally harmonized spectrum allocations. The ITU's last World Radio Conference in November 2019 helped ratify spectrum for 5G. The agency's next conference, scheduled for the end of 2023, promises to do the same for initial 6G spectrum bands.

It's worth noting that policy is just one aspect of 6G. On the technological side, companies all over the world are developing new techniques and innovations that could make it into a 6G standard.

Already European, American and Chinese companies are working furiously to patent technologies that could find their way into a 6G standard. Indeed, the analysts at IDTechEx estimated last year that several billion dollars had already been collectively invested into 6G communication technologies.

"Yes, there are 6G patents that have been issued and many more are pending in patent offices around the world," Ed Fish, co-founder and managing director of patent-monitoring firm Tech+IP Capital, wrote in response to questions from Light Reading. "But it is still a little too nascent from our point of view to make assessments until things mature a bit. Some of the early articles have spoken about Chinese companies having 35-40% of the 6G patents, but this is still very early days... kind of like spring training."

The next step will likely involve associations like ETSI and 3GPP, where patented technologies will be hammered out into global communications standards.

Some of the things that caught our and other people's attention in the presentations as follows:

(click on the image to enlarge)

As you can see from the slide above by HyoungJin Choi from Samsung, also the Chair of Sub-Working Group (SWG) Vision, the 5G usage scenarios of eMBB, URLLC & mMTC may be expanded to Immersive communication, Global Broadband, Omnipresent IoT, Spatio-temporal Services, Critical Services & Compute-AI services.

This slide from China's IMT-2030(6G) Promotion Group highlights the target range for 6G KPIs. These are not much different to the ones we discussed earlier here.

Takehiro Nakamura, representing Japan's Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium, talked about their recent whitepaper that we looked at here. The presentation also explained the different types of KPIs that need to be defined for 6G. 

The presentation from Finland's Traficom and University of Oulu, 'Vision flow from goals to capabilities', proposed a structured flow for IMT for 2030 and beyond vision work as can be seen in the slide above. It goes on to provide examples on how to utilise this vision flow.

There were some other good presentations as well but without a video of the presentations or the context it is difficult to deduce what the presenters were talking about and what message were they trying to convey.

I am confident that the IMT-2030 vision document will capture this well when it is available.

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