ETSI Integrated Sensing and Communications ISG targets 6G

The new ETSI Industry Specification Group for Integrated Sensing and Communications (ISG ISAC). This group will establish the technical foundations for ISAC technology development and standardization of 6G.

87 participants from both the industrial sphere and the academic sphere took an active part in the kick-off meeting, which was held at ETSI premises in Sophia Antipolis, France, on 17 November 2023.

“Integrated Sensing and Communications add a new element of capability to the wireless network, enabling new innovative use cases in transport, urban environments, homes, and factories, ranging from object and intruder detection in predefined secure areas around critical infrastructures to fall detection and rain/pollution monitoring” explains Dr. Alain Mourad, Chair of the ISAC ISG.

The ETSI ISAC ISG’s mission is to enable ETSI members to coordinate their 6G pre-standard research efforts on ISAC, particularly across various European/National-funded collaborative projects, extended through relevant global initiatives, paving the way for the 6G standardization of the technology.

The ISG will target systematic outputs on ISAC into international standards organizations, namely future 3GPP 6G releases (e.g., R20+) and ITU-R IMT-2030 deliverables, related to ISAC requirements and evaluation methodologies.

Within this context, sensing refers to the use of radio signals to detect and estimate characteristics of target objects in the environment. By integrating sensing into the communications network, the network acts as a “radar” sensor, using its own radio signals to sense and comprehend the physical world in which it operates. This allows the network to collect data on the range, velocity, position, orientation, size, shape, image, materials of objects and devices.

The sensing data collected and processed by the network can then be leveraged to enhance the network’s own operations, augment existing services such as XR and digital twinning, and enable new services, such as gesture and activity recognition, object detection and tracking, along with imaging and environment reconstruction.

The ETSI ISAC ISG will define a prioritized set of 6G use cases and sensing types, along with a roadmap for their analysis and evaluation. It will focus on advanced 6G use cases and sensing types which are not expected to be covered by 3GPP Release 19. These advancements may potentially be included in future 6G releases of 3GPP. The group also aims to develop advanced channel models for ISAC use cases and sensing types, with validation through extensive measurement campaigns, addressing gaps in existing communications-based channel models (e.g., 3GPP, IEEE 802. ITU-R).

Output for architectures and deployment considerations, KPIs, and evaluation assumptions will also be provided. In parallel, the group will undertake two studies, with a first analysis of the privacy and security aspects associated with sensing data within the ISAC 6G framework, and a second analysis of the impact of widespread deployment of ISAC on the UN sustainable development goals. To get involved with this new activity, please contact [email protected]


The idea of using a network to sense objects was also offered up by Nokia at MWC this year as a potential 6G use case. Head of Europe Rolf Werner told

“Temperature, wavelength, infrared, you can do stuff which goes all around. You can tune an airport [so you] don’t have to show a passport… you walk through because the network is able to gain information from everything you have… there’s a lot of stuff coming around. 6G in 2030 is our visionary year, or that’s when we think it will kick in. Of course a lot of things have to happen before that.”

ETSI’s ISG ISAC group will be producing a study around the privacy and security aspects around sensing which seems prudent, since there are bound to be some concerns raised about the potential implications of a network sensing all sorts of data points on people and objects if that becomes a key facet of the future 6G marketing machine.

About ETSI:

ETSI provides members with an open and inclusive environment to support the development, ratification, and testing of globally applicable standards for ICT systems and services across all sectors of industry and society. We are a non-profit body, with more than 900 member organizations worldwide, drawn from over 60 countries and five continents. Our members constitute a diverse pool of large and small private companies, research entities, academia, government, and public organizations. ETSI is officially recognized by the EU as a European Standardization Organization (ESO).

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