Charting the Path to 6G - San Diego Business Journal

Charting the Path to 6G – San Diego Business Journal

While still in the process of implementing 5G cellular capabilities, San Diego’s Qualcomm Technologies is already paving the way for 6G deployment.

Last month, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) presented a webinar outlining the company’s vision of a 6G world and the technological advancements it will require and enable.

John Smee
Senior Vice President, Engineering
Qualcomm Technologies

“This initial work on 6G paves the way for this broader focus on the next steps in cellular. What will these use cases be in 2030? What technologies will enable the most cost-effective cellular deployment? said John Smee, senior vice president of engineering at Qualcomm.

“A huge way to go”

According to the timeline presented in the presentation, the early deployment of 6G capabilities could begin as early as 2030. Currently, cellular is in the final stages of initial 5G implementation and the start of “5G Advanced” deployment, said Smee. .

The initial deployment of the 5G platform included innovations such as millimeter wave mobile technology; advances in cellular uses of the vehicle to everything and the industrial IoT; a new spectrum above 52.6 GHz; and non-terrestrial networks using satellites. 5G standardization still has “a full five years” ahead of it as 5G advancements are researched, optimized and deployed.

“There’s a huge path ahead of us for 5G Advanced as we set the stage for 6G,” Smee said.

This path includes implementing smart repeaters for extended coverage; use designs driven by AI and machine learning data; and advancing extended reality capabilities.

From the second half of 2026, Qualcomm will start working on the first version of the 6G platform with an initial deployment target of 2030.

‘Predict the future’

To begin planning for 6G, Qualcomm engineers take a “long-term view” of where cellular technology and its applications are today and where those applications will go over the next 15 years, Smee said, and specifically cited technologies such as collaborative robotics and holograms.

“Where does this technology need to be in 2030, even in 2035 and 2040,” he said. “It’s important to understand that just as 5G is approaching the 2020-2030 era, 6G is approaching the 2030-2040 era.”

Smee said understanding the evolution of virtual reality technologies and wireless sensors and use cases like smart hospitals allows engineers to create a “global core network design” that will allow them to be put together. and serve more effectively.

“As we design 6G, it’s not about perfectly predicting the future,” he said. “It’s also about making sure that we design the system to be scalable so that it can address some unknown use cases of the future.”

Core technologies

While some future use cases are unknown, many will be based on the advancement of current technology in development, such as digital twins for use in medicine and factories, or 3D computing for immersive experiences in the metaverse. .

To enable these technologies to be used on the cellular network, Smee said 6G will need to evolve the use of AI and machine learning from the “cross-node” system of 5G where the AI on devices and AI in the network coordinate to a “native” system where machine learning operates autonomously between the network and devices.

“Technologies like machine learning and AI can be leveraged in 6G in a much more fundamental way than they were in the 5G era that started at the research stage a while ago. is over 10 years old,” he said.

In addition to utilizing advancements in AI computing, the 6G platform will also need to utilize advancements in core cellular technologies, such as an extended spectrum band.

6G Spectrum will target all spectrum types and bands, including research into the upper midbands and sub-terahertz bands. Engineers are also exploring ways to move beyond licensed spectrum and find ways to share unlicensed spectrum.

“So 6G spectrum is going to target all band types to ensure we have the most economical use of spectrum to meet as many use cases and requirements as possible,” Smee said.

Other core technology advancements for 6G’s cellular “air interface” include improved antennas to have higher gain and better signal direction to allow for a larger coverage area for higher frequency bands. high. A 6G network will also use technologies such as small sub-cells and reconfigurable smart surfaces to enable the coverage and positioning needed for the large amounts of data expected for network use cases.

“A lot of these core technological advancements are the ingredients that we can creatively piece together to have a compelling 6G-era interface and make sure that we bring that balance of technological evolution while leveraging those core advancements” , Smee said.

Qualcomm Technologies

Creation: 1985
CEO: Cristiano Amon
Headquarters: San Diego
Activity: Manufacturer of processors for mobile phones, computers
Revenue: $33.57 billion (2021)
Employees: 41,000
Of note: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X65 is the first 5G 10 Gigabit modem-antenna solution designed for rapid commercialization in private mobile broadband, fixed wireless, industrial IoT and 5G networks.

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