6G-TakeOff: Holistic 3D Communication Networks for 6G

Last year, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched the funding measure "6G industry projects for research into holistic systems and sub-technologies for 6th generation mobile communications" as part of the German 6G Research Initiative. 

The 6G initiative is an essential part of the new research program on communication systems "Sovereign. Digital. Connected." In addition to the 6G industry projects, the 6G Initiative includes the four 6G Research Hubs consisting of research associations of outstanding research institutes and universities and the umbrella project "6G Platform". 

The aim of the measures of the BMBF's 6G initiative is to strengthen the digital and technological sovereignty of Germany and Europe by developing and helping to shape 6G at an early stage. This key technology will also secure Germany's and Europe's future competitiveness. The project will run until summer 2025 and will be used to research the new 6G communications standard, which has yet to be defined. Standardization by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) organization is also expected to begin in 2025. The first 6G networks are expected to be launched from 2030.

6G-TakeOff aims to combine ground-based and flying execution platforms in a holistic manner as infrastructure for network elements. Deutsche Telekom is taking the lead. As per the press release:

Together with a total of 22 partners from research and industry, Telekom is forming a consortium with the aim of developing a uniform 6G architecture for communications networks comprising ground stations, flying infrastructure platforms and satellites. By orchestrating different access technologies, the respective advantages can be used as needed. Optimal access to connectivity is thus ensured for each scenario.

Base stations on board satellites and flying platforms can help close the remaining coverage gaps of ground-based base stations. They offer the possibility to provide additional network capacity temporarily and locally as needed. To this end, 6G-TakeOff will develop a 3D architecture for mobile networks in which terrestrial and non-terrestrial base stations are considered and used in a uniform manner. The main topics here are the fully automated management of networks in which structures change dynamically, as well as flexibly configurable hardware platforms and antenna systems. Artificial intelligence (AI) is also used here to find optimal connections for the data streams that arise. With the help of the AI used, faults are also to be predicted automatically and the resilience of the communication network as a whole is to be significantly improved. In addition, security aspects are being investigated in this project and novel authentication protocols are being developed.

Satellite constellations and communication networks can only be realized on an international scale. To this end, 6G-TakeOff will cooperate with European institutions and research projects to help shape future 6G standards. As coordinator of a national funded project, Telekom will also be involved in the national ‘6G- Platform’ and ensure scientific exchange with other 6G research projects.

An Overview Presentation on 6G-TakeOff provides more details and insights as can be seen in the images above. The conclusion nicely summarises the problem statement:

  • 6G-TakeOff aims to serve applications with demand for ubiquitous coverage and to provide capacity in cases of temporarily and locally varying traffic demand
  • 6G-TakeOff’s architecture will be
    • 3D: consisting of execution platforms on multiple altitudes (satellites, UAVs, terrestrial sites)
    • Unified: jointly optimized for both terrestrial and non-terrestrial network nodes
  • 6G-TakeOff’s key challenge is the relative movement of network nodes, requiring novel technologies for connectivity management and function reallocation as well as steerable high-gain antennas

Anyone wishing to learn more may benefit from the video below from Think 6G Summit last year.

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