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December 29, 2023
Just a few short years ago, the telecom industry was buzzing with anticipation that 5G would be earth shattering. It was supposed to unlock fantastical use cases such as robotic surgery, connected cars, digital twins and network slicing. While companies are experimenting with all those use cases, less sexy but more practical and realistic use cases like private 5G networks have overshadowed them.
Now, 6G is on the horizon. But service providers are still trying to work out the kinks in deploying standalone 5G and solving the riddle of how to generate revenue from the technology.
"But most ordinary people haven't significantly upped their spending with the rollout of 5G, and they won't be doing it for 6G, either," reported Light Reading's Iain Morris. At a recent 6G Summit, AT&T technology EVP Chris Sambar discussed the importance of connecting the dots between service provider investment in 6G "to have clear line of sight to the consumer use cases."
What's 6G good for?
For example, Howard Watson, BT's chief security and networks officer, believes that 6G will will be mainly about "the ability to detect passive IoT [Internet of Things] devices" – as well as artificial intelligence (AI) for network management.
The ability of AI to reduce energy consumption when there's less demand on the network could be another boon for 6G by making networks more energy efficient.
But there are plenty of hurdles to clear to realize 6G's full potential. Efforts to standardize the technology could cause geopolitical fragmentation. At the same time, service providers are trying to balance existing hardware investments with software upgrades for 6G. Plus, there's the trouble of freeing up spectrum for 6G.
Addressing these challenges will take solid planning from service providers and vendors in the years to come.
Here's a look back at some of Light Reading's 6G coverage in 2023:
Senior Editor, Light Reading
Kelsey is a senior editor at Light Reading, co-host of the Light Reading podcast, and host of the "What's the story?" podcast.
Her interest in the telecom world started with a PR position at Connect2 Communications, which led to a communications role at the FREEDM Systems Center, a smart grid research lab at N.C. State University. There, she orchestrated their webinar program across college campuses and covered research projects such as the center's smart solid-state transformer.
Kelsey enjoys reading four (or 12) books at once, watching movies about space travel, crafting and (hoarding) houseplants.
Kelsey is based in Raleigh, N.C.
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