6G News and Announcements from MWC 2023

As anticipated, 6G was present throughout the conference, though a bit muted. With no official requirements yet available, there were some demos billed as 6G but not necessary the "killer" use cases. 

We already saw NTT Docomo's and SK Telecom's common requirements for 6G last week. At MWC they were both showing some demos on 6G. 

On the day 1 of MWC, DOCOMO and NTT announced that they have expand 6G collaborations with Ericsson and Keysight Technologies. This is in addition to Fujitsu, NEC, and Nokia collaboration I talked about before here.

The human augmentation demos were lacklustre compared to the 5G demos from back in MWC 2018/19. Their MWC page provides the following detail on this topic:

DOCOMO, aiming to leverage 6G's high speed, high capacity and low latency, is developing a mobile platform that will extend human capabilities by sharing sensory information between people.

  • Motion Sharing: This technology can be used to share bodily movements not only with other people but also robots. For example, sharing the hand movements of a teacher playing a musical instrument allows a beginner to mimic the teacher's playing in real time. Also, sharing the actions of a person making green tea enables a robot to perform the same ritualized procedure. Furthermore, information shared by the human-augmentation platform is tailored to the capabilities of the person on the receiving end.
  • FEEL TECH: The platform is used to share haptic information between people to enable people on the receiving end to experience sensations such as creating art and touching remote objects. Before sharing, haptic information is converted by the platform and adjusted according to each receiver's level of sensitivity.

In their press release, SK Telecom mentioned that they will showcase next-generation (6G) mobile network technologies, security technologies based on quantum mechanics, and ‘ifland’ its metaverse service launched in the global market. The Tweet from 6G World below has a nice summary of SKT's 6G demos while this video has a bit more details of the booth.

Ericsson announced an MoU with Taiwanese operator Chunghwa Telecom for B5G and 6G. You can see a quick video of their 6G section here while a demo of the future technology experience is available here.

Nokia's big announcement was the rebranding of their company that dominated the MWC news. Nevertheless, Peter Vetter, President of Bell Labs Core Research at Nokia Bell Labs along with Amanda Hu, S&T Tech Content Marketing of Nokia demonstrated the "first two", real proof of concept 6G systems at MWC23. You can see the video here

There wasn't anything 6G specific from NEC, even though they have been working with NTT and Docomo for a while. They did have a RIS on their stand though.

Fujitsu talked a bit about their 6G for the Digitalized Future Society at MWC. "Fujitsu presents 2030 Vision –the Digitalized Future Society-- in terms of network technologies and its elemental technologies. The more digital technologies are adopted by industries and society, the clearer the future shape of society becomes. Fujitsu will continue to engage in developing innovative technologies such as open & disaggregation, intelligent network, and green technology. Especially, disaggregated computing is the key technology, which enables high-speed and highly efficient processing owing to optimal and flexible configuration based on required resources. These technologies will drive customer success and realize the digitalized future society."

They also released "ICT architecture in 6G era" whitepaper, available here.

Qualcomm showcased many new technologies that "are fueling the 5G Advanced evolution as well as establishing the groundwork for 6G — the innovation platform for the next decade. " They have shared playlist of their demos here.

I didn't see anything specific from Huawei & ZTE on 6G. Having said that ZTE released a 6G whitepaper in December, available here. Fang Min, Chief Engineer, 6G Research Planning at ZTE also spoke about their 6G vision in "Ready to Talk 6G?" session.

Oppo released a 6G whitepaper titled, "A Versatile 6G with Minimized Kernel: To build the mobile world". Available here.

Nothing specifically 6G from Samsung but Yue Wang, Head of 6G Research at Samsung Research UK asked a lot of open questions to make the audience ponder in the "Ready to Talk 6G?" session.

NGMN held a Press & Industry Briefing at Mobile World Congress on February 28th. The official page is here and presentation is available here. TelecomTV has a write-up on this here.

In addition to all the above, the "5G Advanced – Ready For Take-Off" session shared by '6G World' here is worth watching.

Couple of the main areas of discussion in this MWC were Sustainability and Monetization, especially of 5G. There are no easy answers on either of the topics. According to this article from 6G World, ITU's Secretary-General, Doreen Bogdan-Martin said that the ITU vision for 6G will include, for the first time, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability as part of the specifications of the new technology.

To conclude this post let's look at a little extract from Light Reading's article quoting Howard Watson, BT's Chief Security and Networks Officer here:

What would 6G do that 5G cannot? "I think it is more driven by network sensing and the ability to detect passive IoT devices and have a great amount of intelligence in the network," said Watson. But he does sound tired of the industry obsession with promoting Gs. "There is a general feeling that customers are fed up with us talking about Gs and would rather talk to us about capabilities and features."

For now, the priority is what happens first. "Ensuring 6G is not coming too soon is important," said Watson. "We need to make sure the industry monetizes 5G before rushing to 6G."

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