Summary of ITU-R Workshop on “IMT for 2030 and beyond” (aka “6G”)

ITU-R Working Party 5D (WP 5D) held a full-day Workshop on “IMT for 2030 and beyond on June 14th with total 348 participants in a hybrid physical and remote/virtual participants arrangement (91 physically present in Geneva, Switzerland and 257 connected remotely).

The objective of the Workshop was to provide WP 5D delegates with an overview of ongoing worldwide research activities, initiatives, and views related to future mobile communications targeting 2030 and beyond. This Workshop is also of value to WP 5D in the development of a new Recommendation addressing IMT for 2030 and beyond.

Various organizations presented their work and/or views on the future development of mobile communication systems beyond IMT-2020, targeting year 2030 and beyond.  These are summarized below.  In particular,  the following topics were addressed:

– Trends of IMT for 2030 and beyond, such as application, technology and spectrum aspects;

– Views on the future role of IMT in serving users and the society;

– Usage scenarios for IMT for 2030 and beyond;

– Capabilities of IMT for 2030 and beyond.

All the presentations made during the Workshop can be found on the ITU-R WP 5D website (1st reference below). Strong interests and visions towards IMT for 2030 and beyond were demonstrated by the presenters. Additionally, some items were recognized as useful in further discussion in the work in WP 5D on the draft new recommendation such as scope of Vision (terrestrial, non-terrestrial and/or fixed wireless), definition of AI for IMT Vision, usage scenarios & capabilities, and restructuring of a working document.

FIGURE 1. Keywords in the presentations and mapping with [IMT.vision 2030 AND Beyond] sections

Key messages from the workshop presenters:

 

European 6G Flagship from Hexa-X:

Hexa-X is the European flagship research initiative to develop the foundation and contribute to industry consensus leading to 6G. The Hexa-X vision is to connect human, physical and digital worlds with a fabric of 6G key enablers. Key values include sustainability, inclusion and trustworthiness. Sub-THz is being explored as a potential complement to the low, mid, and mmWave bands to optimize wireless link characteristics for both communication and potentially sensing, and cooperatively provide for the full set of service requirements. Possible usage of spectrum in 7-24 GHz range for mobile communications.

One6G from One6G Association:

Building on the apparent consensus in the wide community about 6G features, use cases, requirements and key enabling technologies, 6G research should go a step further and also focus on certain architectural aspects that can handle complexity stemming from the expected diversity of access types (6G radio, Terahertz, Non-terrestrial Networks), use cases and requirements. In particular, the role of mesh-networking, flat network architectures, multi-path communication should be emphasized and considered from the beginning, as these are capable both of coping with highly-variable and range-limited nature of THz links and of making effective use of user plane resources when realizing the complex use cases. A holistic approach to the network architecture, integrating all diverse subsystems into a coherent system, naturally follows from this as another important aspect.

IMT towards 2030 and beyond from NextG Alliance:

Next G Alliance described six pillars (“Audacious Goals”) that will lead to success for IMT-2030. In order guide the path to this success, the Vision for IMT-2030 should focus on multiple layers of development to include societal needs, applications and markets, and technology development: 

Trust, Security, and Resilience such that systems resilient, secure, privacy preserving, safe, reliable, and available under all circumstances.

An enhanced Digital World Experience consists of multi-sensory experiences that will transform work, education, and entertainment, thereby improving quality of life.

Efficient Deployment needs to span all aspects of the architecture and must be improved for delivering services in a variety of environments, including urban, rural, and suburban. 

Distributed Cloud and Communications Systems built on virtualization technologies will increase flexibility, performance, and resiliency for key use cases such as mixed reality, URLLC applications, interactive gaming, and multi-sensory applications. 

An AI-Native Network is needed to increase the robustness, performance, and efficiencies of wireless and cloud technologies against more diverse traffic types, ultra-dense deployment topologies, and more challenging spectrum situations. 

Sustainability related to energy efficiency and the environment must be at the forefront of decisions throughout the life cycle, toward a goal of achieving IMT carbon neutral. Advances will fundamentally change how electricity is used to support next-generation communications and computer networks, while strengthening the role that information technology plays in protecting the environment.

Vision for “IMT 2030 and beyond” from WWRF:

WWRF envisions sustainable, intelligent and affordable wireless connectivity for all for 2030 and beyond. First step towards the realisation of this vision is the requirements specification for a number of critical IMT 2030 USAGE SCENARIOS, namely

Global Connectivity, Immersive Connectivity, Intelligent Connectivity, and Internet of Senses

Key technology enablers such as THz communications, Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces, AI/ML and Joint Communications and Sensing will catalyse IMT2030 vision. Suitable qualitative and quantitative specification of IMT 2030 Key Performance Indicators for

Sustainability/inclusion/energy efficiency

Reconfigurability, immersive intelligence and agility

Artificial and sensing intelligence (localization accuracy, sensing resolution, shape recognition, user tracking, gesture identification etc)

Social KPIs, Key Value Indicators (KVIs)

will ensure solutions, tailored to the needs people in different geographic areas and a potentially large dynamic range of real world problems, with emphasis on

under-connected regions

increasing longer-lasting, recyclable and re-usable equipment and reducing reliance on scarce commodities

educating and informing consumers, giving them back control (Privacy, RF safety and other issues)

Use cases from user and system perspectives from 6G Innovation Centre at the Univ. of Surrey:

IMT2030 should be based on an open and tightly integrated 3D-Network of space and terrestrial Networks.

As 5G brought about low and guaranteed latency into telecom, IMT 2030 (6G) should bring capability for guaranteed time synchronisation.

Integration of sensing into communications and time synchronisation will enable new and smarter applications for interactive and multiparty connectivity within and between virtual and physical worlds. It will enable teleportation.

Sub-THz should be used for real time radio imaging, sub-cm and real time geolocation accuracy.

The 3D network will address important problem of ubiquitous coverage and Intelligent surfaces simultaneously solves the coverage and energy efficiency problems in build up environments.

6G: Building metaverse-ready mobile networks from Academic group of British Universities:

The metaverse and cyber physical continuum will allow fundamentally new use cases around digital twins and new immersive experiences. If we manage to fully map the physical world into a new digital world, autonomous machines will be able to effectively support our lives through immersive XR experiences for example, decision making will become more effective, less energy will be consumed, predictive maintenance in manufacturing for enhance productivity will be realised, and enhanced security will ensure that the evolving attack surfaces will be secured. Social inclusion, removal of inequalities and universal availability are key elements of this vision. For this, we will need new network architectures, new hardware and software solutions. Overcoming the limitations of current silicon process technologies will be crucial through for example neuromorphic computing. AI/machine learning forms the brain while connectivity forms the nervous system and sensor data establishes crucial input for enabling intelligent interactions with the environment and dynamic mapping of the environment. Ultimately, quantum technologies will enter future networks for improved processing, decision making and security, and new spectrum is required. To this end, terabit-per-second (Tbps) wireless networks can be realised using the optical spectrum. Therefore, the spectrum considerations should extend to the optical domain.

Unlocking the potential of the stratosphere from HAPS Alliance:

The current advancements in technology have made it possible to explore the stratosphere with High-altitude platforms. Many initiatives are already underway to commercialize HAPS, making it technically feasible.

HAPS can solve crucial social challenges, such as bridging the digital divide and natural disaster recovery through flexible and timely deployment. It is also expected to be a means of providing connectivity for aerial applications that are expected to expand in the future.

While everything will be connected to the network in the 2030s, it will be difficult to solve all these challenges using only terrestrial network, and non-terrestrial network, especially HAPS, is required.

IMT for 2030 and beyond should have the capability of ultra-wide 3D coverage which will realize by using HAPS.

Views towards IMT for 2030 and Beyond from IMT-2030 (6G) Promotion Group:

IMT-2030 (6G) promotion group analyzed driving forces, the future market trends, network O&M requirements, 6G use cases trends, and proposed 6G new usage scenarios and key capability indicators. 6G will transcend the capabilities boundary of traditional communication in the way of sustainable development, and finally realize the 6G shared beautiful world of “intelligent connection of everything, digital twin”.

Beyond 5G White Paper (v1.0) – Message to the 2030s from Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium:

In this presentation, Vision, capabilities and KPIs of IMT for 2030 and beyond, contained in the White Paper of Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium, were explained. The White Pater was developed based on the investigation for a wide range of stakeholders and provides useful information for the development of Vision in WP5D. The Consortium will update the White Paper and contribute to WP5D toward the progress of the IMT-2030 process.

IMT for 2030 and Beyond: Lessons from 5G and future perspectives for 6G from NTRA, Egypt:

IMT-2030 should be utilized as a tool to overcome the digital divide by providing useful applications for the developing countries with an emphasize on flexibility in deployment, affordability, and society well-being instead of only focusing on extending IMT-2020 capabilities such as latency and speed.

Spectrum identification is needed for IMT-2030 even in THz bands to ensure the protection of existing services, and operation in IMT identified bands should be included as one of the compliance requirements.

There are several benefits of having one IMT-2030 standard but also there is a need to encourage innovation and enable new stakeholders to participate in the IMT process.

Regardless of the development in 6G technologies, the IMT process is quite critical as it is a flexible open platform to exchange views on what the next generation of cellular mobile technology should be.

IMT-2030 capabilities and challenges from Radio Research and Development Institute, Russia:

The aim of the presentation was to show the most important aspects that need to be implemented within IMT-2030 and challenges that may be faced while realizing these applications. The history of IMT shows that it was mostly evolving around data rates, multiple access techniques, frequency bands used, and killer applications. It is expected that IMT-2030 will also revolve around these principles, IMT-2030 though is expected to have additional features. It is imperative that IMT-2030 would the following capabilities:

Use cases related to digital presence such as holographic communications, immersive communications and tactile Internet

Coverage in remote areas using the satellite segment of IMT

New frequencies above 100 GHz

Affordable networks deployment for private industry and other applications

Faster data rates higher than 1 Tbs

Lower latencies less than 1 ms

Reliable technology which would be publicly accepted without any fear of the hazardous exposure

It should be noted though that there might be several challenges related with realizing the above capabilities, such as propagation losses in higher bands, difficulties with satellite mega-constellations deployment, development of the multiple access techniques for higher frequency bands, hardware development, as well as public concerns regarding possible exposure of new frequency bands and in the environment with intelligent reflective surfaces.

Vision flow – from goals to capabilities from Traficom & Univ. of Oulu:

Finland proposes a structured flow for the joint vision of IMT for 2030 and beyond to bring together the currently separate vision elements. The steps of the flow are 1) Goals & societal impact, 2) Users, 3) Usage scenarios and Future examples, 4) Enabling technologies, 5) KPIs/Capabilities. The goals and societal needs provide justification for technological development and later to new regulatory models and spectrum requirements.

Network architecture for IMT-2030 from IIT Bombay:

We notice that the flow of (UE) signalling traffic in the mobile networks are quite similar to the user data traffic. They both carry information and require path through the mobile network to carry the information. In our presentation, we look at this similarity and discuss if it is possible to treat “UE signalling” similar to user service (data) in future mobile networks, i.e., if the signalling traffic and the data traffic can be treated in a similar manner by the mobile communications networks. We also explain how it is possible to achieve this goal and what are the advantages of the proposal. We find that the proposal simplifies the network architecture as well as the flow of control information within the network considerably.

6G Vision from TSDSI (India):

Apart from the well discussed issues that covered issues surrounding the broad technologies and mechanisms to achieve Ubiquitous Intelligent Mobile Connected Society, the below two points are essential for “bridging the digital divide” which is a key focus area for TSDSI and certain other geographies.

Technologies that support Spectrum Sharing / Simultaneous Spectrum Use will have to be supported to lower the initial spectrum ownership cost. Today technologies such as “self-interference cancellation” makes it possible for multiple co-ownership of spectrum.

Composable Network architectures are necessary to address issues of cost and affordability, incremental deployments, support collaborative network ownerships (Private / Public) and the intrinsic nature of some demographics that provide rich “local and hyper local” contexts.

  • 6G network design should address Data Ownership Granularities spanning from personal data, enterprise or group data, government ownership of data and data considered as national assets (data that is not allowed to leave the geographic boundaries) through the right choice of technologies that may include “network of networks” architecture approach, support for “data breakout” mechanisms at multiple levels of a network and any other such technology enablers.

References:

https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-R/study-groups/rsg5/rwp5d/Pages/wsp-imt-vision-2030-and-beyond.aspx

Excerpts of ITU-R preliminary draft new Report: FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS OF TERRESTRIAL IMT SYSTEMS TOWARDS 2030 AND BEYOND

Development of “IMT Vision for 2030 and beyond” from ITU-R WP 5D

 

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