NGMN Whitepaper on '6G Requirements and Design Considerations'

Last week I wrote a summary of 6G announcements from MWC 2023 in which I talked about NGMN Press & Industry Briefing as well. This week I am highlighting NGMN's whitepaper on 6G Requirements and Design Considerations which was published mid-Feb.

Quoting from the paper (PDF):

The 6G system is expected to be built upon the features and capabilities introduced with 5G, alongside new capabilities, to deliver new services and value. Any new technology should enable superior functionalities and capabilities, supporting new and differentiated services, advancing digital transformation and opening new market opportunities, considering efficiency and affordability. Sustainability that includes energy efficiency and adoption of green technologies and green energy, towards carbon neutrality, is a key focus of NGMN, for this decade and beyond and should be a fundamental design consideration for 6G. This 6G publication is intended to provide guidance on the identified trends related to use cases, as well as highlighting essential needs in network evolution.

The executive summary provides a good overview of the paper:

In this publication, the NGMN Alliance builds on its earlier work and sets out important aspects for network evolution, considering the opportunities, challenges and design objectives that are intended to guide the broader industry towards delivering services valued by end users. The objectives of this work have been to explore design requirements and provide timely guidance to the industry, to play a key role in avoiding fragmentation of 6G standards and ecosystem to achieve affordable deployments, and to engage with different stakeholders, monitor external 6G activities and facilitate timely exchange with external organisations.

This contribution serves to offer guidance towards the realisation of the vision of communication systems for 2030 and beyond, currently being developed by ITU-R. As the community builds consensus around potential trends, use cases and associated capabilities, it becomes imperative to prioritise design considerations in all aspects, from research and innovations to implementation, deployment, and operational models. In general, the foundation from which this contribution has been developed is on the understanding that there will be a graceful evolution towards 6G, and at this stage we do not rule out the possibility that 6G is an evolution of 5G, either for the core network, the RAN, or both.

The requirements include a set of essential needs related to network evolution, such as digital inclusion, energy efficiency towards containment of the overall network energy consumption, and environmental sustainability, as well as the capabilities associated with the prospective generic use cases defined in earlier NGMN publications [1], [2] and highlighted in Section 3. In addition, the overall conditions related to the introduction of new service creation must be considered.

We recommend that research, and the development of future ecosystems, should prioritise the key challenges to address societal and environmental needs, including wellbeing, prosperity, sustainability, security, resilience and inclusion. In addition, further enablement of digital transformation and automated industries is expected to advance, to address future market needs, with expanded and differentiated opportunities, operational efficiency, and economic sustainability.

A number of design attributes and requirements are to be addressed. The outcome sought is obviously one in which end user benefits are identified at a cost which is acceptable. The challenge to reduce cost per bit will however remain. New approaches are needed in addition to continued efforts on simplification, energy efficiency and automation. End to end intelligent system automation, visibility / traceability, and efficient management are needed targeting sustainable and flexible deployment and simplified operation. New paradigms are needed to address traffic growth, extreme requirements (such as immersive, critical, massive, native), capacity needs, minimisation of added complexity, and the alternatives to densification, considering the practical limits of wide-area mobile systems. Service versatility must be provided where and when applicable and relevant; all capabilities may not be concurrent or provided simultaneously. In addition, the use cases with extreme requirements are expected to be enabled where and when needed by the befitting solution and access mechanism. There must be flexibility to make trade-offs for deployment. In co-existence and potential concurrence of services such as those related to communication, computing, sensing and AI, there is a need to consider efficient optimisation of resources and interactions, in addition to privacy, data protection, data ownership and sensitivity, local-offload trade-offs, power constraints and energy efficiency. Moreover, 6G should be designed with novel services and devices, which can validate and accelerate the necessity of future mobile networks for the end users. Finally, 6G should also be engineered to help operators meet the net-zero objectives that many of them have committed to, among other environmental sustainability targets.

The 6G system is expected to be built upon the features and capabilities introduced with 5G, alongside new capabilities, to deliver new services and value. The essential needs are particularly directed towards building networks that deliver digital inclusion, that are environmentally and economically sustainable, that reduce complexity, address traffic growth, and enable new services through additional features that are complementary to mobile networks. 

The views of the NGMN indicate that for a fundamental change to take place there must be significant benefits that justify the cost and complexity in technology migration. In any migration to 6G the transition should be carefully considered to ensure that 5G networks are not compromised, and that the features provided by 6G provide end-user value through the addition of new features or the ability to reduce operational cost and subsequently affordability.

A healthy global ecosystem, including interdisciplinary research and innovations, and global standardisation, will be essential to address the drivers of 6G, along with design requirements on a graceful path.

Related Posts