Verizon's top networking executive, Kyle Malady, offers a blunt assessment of the expected next generation of wireless networking technology: "There's going to be a collection of new technology advancements, and then people will rally around the ones that are meaningful," he said. "We'll see how those things pan out."
However, Malady said that, so far, there's no clear reason to move beyond 5G. "I really don't know what the hell 6G is," he said. "We just put 5G in. And I think there's a lot of development still to come on that one."
Malady's comments certainly align with his job at Verizon, which is to manage the operator's wired and wireless operations and to construct a 5G network. But they also serve to put a decidedly pragmatic spin on the growing noise around 6G technology.
Verizon, AT&T, Apple, Google and a wide range of other companies have already teamed under ATIS' "Next G Alliance" that seeks to unite US industry, government and academia around 6G efforts. Perhaps that's no real surprise; PCMag recently cited a Samsung white paper that speculates the International Telecommunications Union will begin work to "define a 6G vision" next year, with commercial deployments as early as 2028. Already network testing equipment vendor Rohde & Schwarz is touting its first tests in spectrum that could be used for 6G.
"It's coming," Mazin Gilbert, AT&T's VP of network analytics and automation, said of 6G during a recent industry event. Indeed, some top AT&T executives have already been working to "soften folks' expectations around 5G," and talk up the operator's 6G efforts.
Others aren't so keen on moving on from 5G, which is still relatively new in the market. "Why do we need 6G?" asked Karri Kuoppamaki, VP of technology development and strategy for T-Mobile US, at the same industry event. "I believe 5G has a long and bright future ahead of it."
"I still think there's a lot of focus that needs to be on 5G right now and making that as good as it could be," Verizon's Malady told Light Reading. He explained that there are members of his networking team looking at the 6G topic, but that so far he sees no compelling reason to begin discussing what comes after 5G.
"I'm not sure exactly what it is," he said of 6G.
- 6G sounds a lot like 5G, but it could spell upheaval
- Apple, Google start working on 6G
- AT&T, T-Mobile take different views on 6G