SK Telecom Releases 6G White Paper Looking at Lessons Learned in 5G and Way Forward with 6G

The South Korean Operator SK Telecom (SKT), who are well known because of their technology innovations and advancements, announced the release of their 6G whitepaper to present key requirements for 6G standardization and the direction of future network evolution.

SKT has already been making continuous efforts to lead 6G standardization by actively participating in global organizations like the NGMN Alliance and IOWN, and conducting collaborative work with partners such as NTT DOCOMO.

The English version of press release said:

The standardization process for 6G is in its early stage. In June 2023, the International Telecommunication Union-Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) Working Party (WP) 5D published the Framework Recommendation of the 6G Network, which is expected to be commercialized around 2030. In addition, the first discussion on 6G candidate frequencies is scheduled to take place at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) at the end of this year, and WP 5D is expected to begin working on the technical performance requirements of 6G from 2024.

As part of its efforts to contribute to the standardization of 6G, SKT published a white paper that contains its views on 6G key requirements and 6G evolution methodology, along with its opinions on the latest trends in frequency standardization.

The 6G White Paper also provides analysis, development directions and methodologies pertaining to promising 6G use cases, technology trends, and candidate frequencies.

Based on its experience gained through the world’s first commercialization and operation of 5G, SKT suggests 6G key requirements to realize expected usage scenarios and services in the 6G era.

The 6G key requirements include powerful 6G products and services; simple architecture options; technologies that can expand coverage; and device heat and power consumption reduction technologies to improve user experience.

Moreover, with the commercialization of 6G, SKT projected that megatrends like AI, power saving and quantum security will spread across all network areas, and technologies specialized for each network area, such as radio access network, core network, transport network, and aerial network, will be applied and evolved.

The whitepaper can be downloaded here.

Telecom TV has a good summary of the paper here. Quoting from that:

In its ‘6G White Paper’, the South Korean company forecast that the commercialisation of the 6G network, which is expected to happen around 2030, will lead to these major trends and that they will spread across all network areas. 

Furthermore, technologies that have been specially designed for each network area, such as radio access network (RAN), core network, transport network and aerial network, are expected to be applied and evolved in the 6G era.

SKT concluded that, considering the rapidly increasing interest in generative AI (GenAI) tools, such as ChatGPT, AI will play “a vital role in leading innovations in many areas and cracking previously unresolved problems” when 6G arrives. The operator added that it is already conducting research and development (R&D) that integrates AI technology into wireless access networks, core networks and user equipment.

Energy efficiency is now being recognised “as an important consideration in mobile communication network design across all areas” as the world faces a climate change crisis, the report stated, and operators are expected to focus on this when building out 6G networks.

According to SKT’s forecast, in the “highly intelligent 6G era”, aspects such as network and data security, as well as personal information protection, will grow in importance. Therefore, it added, “6G should be designed within a robust structure based on zero trust for customer safety”. It also highlighted its efforts to partially commercialise quantum security technology.

In terms of requirements, SKT pointed out that the telecom industry needs to discover “6G killer services” and make further progress in terms of the evolution of connection services.

“Therefore, to revitalise related industries and create synergy through 6G, we should focus on customer interests, such as lifestyle innovation, as well as performance improvement in terms of simple network infrastructure, and convergence with future technologies, such as AI and sensing technology. All participants in the related ecosystem must think together to discover exclusive products and services that can only be experienced in 6G by seeking synergies and paradigm shifts in mobile communication services”, the report stated.

It also outlined the importance of preparing network infrastructure that is capable of supporting new device types, such as extended reality (XR), urban air mobility (UAM), self-driving cars and holographic watches.

SKT also called for 6G standardisation work to focus on “the most probable 6G architecture options” to avoid replicating “the fragmentation of 5G architecture options”.

When introducing 6G, “it is necessary to design an architecture that can maintain service quality, including speed experienced by customers, at a level equal to or higher than that of existing services”. To do this, it recommended the development of technologies that can “maximise service quality and enable coexistence and evolution between generations, such as inter-band frequency combining technology (CA, DC) and efficient spectrum sharing technology”.

Other key requirements include “powerful 6G products and services”, technologies that can expand coverage, and technologies that can reduce the heat and power consumption of devices.

You can read the complete article here.

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