The Next G Alliance on Thursday released its first "comprehensive deliverable," according to the group's leadership: a 49-page white paper that lays out its goals for the development of 6G.
"This is how we will define leadership in North America," explained Susan Miller, CEO of ATIS, the trade association backing the effort. "The intent is to develop that leadership."
At a high level, the white paper presents six "audacious" goals covering future global standards, deployments, products, operations and services in 6G. The alliance is attempting to address the development of the technology early, not only from a technological point of view but also from a regulatory, societal, environmental and geopolitical perspective.
"Competing with other regions of the world to lead in 6G will require policies that establish the necessary building blocks for private sector investment in the research, development and deployment of 6G networks," the Next G Alliance wrote. "While the next generation of wireless networks will build upon ongoing work to support 5G networks, achieving the goal of 6G leadership will pose additional challenges in areas such as spectrum needs, manufacturing base, workforce skilling and infrastructure deployment."
"Recognizing that these foundations take time to establish, one of the primary missions of the Next G Alliance is to bring industry, government and academia to the table to begin working on these policies much earlier in the innovation lifecycle than has been done for previous generations," the group added.
The white paper provides details about each of the alliance's six focus areas and offers recommendations to stakeholders. It is "very much a blueprint," explained Mike Nawrocki, VP for technology and solutions at ATIS and the Next G Alliance's managing director. He described the group as "action oriented."
ATIS launched the Next G Alliance in 2020 and during 2021 assembled a diverse group of members, ranging from Apple to Verizon to the US Department of Defense. The release of the group's white paper marks its first concrete step toward 6G.
A North American approach to a global issue
Of course, the Next G Alliance isn't the only group developing a vision for 6G. Other companies, associations and governments around the world are doing the same.
"Regionalism is a theme right now," acknowledged ATIS' Miller. "We're very aware of what might be regionalization."
She also acknowledged that the Next G Alliance could be viewed as a US counter to China's own investments into 6G. "We're very mindful of where the [Biden] Administration is on China," she said.
"We understand that many other regions are defining their own vision of 6G," Nawrocki said, explaining that the Next G Alliance is deliberately taking a North American approach. "It needs to be a vision based on North American needs."
Nawrocki acknowledged that there are growing fears that the US and China might develop their own separate 6G specifications, but he said it's unclear whether that will happen.
Doug Castor, an InterDigital executive who is the Next G Alliance's 6G roadmap vice chair, said the group is developing a comprehensive outlook on which spectrum bands the technology might support. That's noteworthy considering the ongoing debate over possible 5G interference with some aircraft radio altimeters.
Castor said 6G will likely work across all the spectrum bands that 5G currently works in. He added that researchers are also looking at additional spectrum bands between 90GHz and 300GHz for 6G services.
"It takes a while to understand the spectrum that's available," Castor said.
As such, Nawrocki noted the Next G Alliance has already submitted a contribution to the ITU-R, responding to a request for input to the association's "IMT Vision for 2030 and Beyond." The ITU is an international organization that seeks to harmonize spectrum usage in countries around the globe.
Miller said ATIS expects standardization groups like the 3GPP to begin looking at initial 6G specifications in the next two to three years.
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