In a speech he was scheduled to deliver (but didn’t) Thursday at a Global CTO Roundtable on 5G Integrated and Open Networks (ION), U.S. Attorney General William Barr wrote (bold font added):
The United States and our partners are in an urgent race against the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to develop and build 5G infrastructure around the world. Our national security and the flourishing of our liberal democratic values here and around the world depend on our winning it.
Future 5G networks will be a critical piece of global infrastructure, the central nervous system of the global economy. Unfortunately, the PRC is well on its way to seizing a decisive 5G advantage. If the PRC wins the 5G race, the geopolitical, economic, and national security consequences will be staggering. The PRC knows this, which explains why it is using every lever of power to expand its 5G market share around the globe. The community of free and democratic nations must do the same.
To compete and win against the PRC juggernaut, the United States and its partners must work closely with trusted vendors to pursue practical and realistic strategies that can turn the tide now. Although the ‘Open RAN’ approach is not a solution to our immediate problem, the concept of Integrated and Open Networks (ION), which was the topic of yesterday’s roundtable, holds promise and should be explored. We can win the race, but we must act now.
From Mung Chiang of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Advisor:
With a broad, inclusive tent of what “open” means, a nuanced appreciation of network deployment reality, and a more solid view on architectural choices, ION becomes one of the areas where the United States and partner countries can lead in 5G innovation. We invite technology leaders in the industry to help make that happen. Speed is the key to winning the 5G race.
While technology should not be mistaken as a solution to the fundamental problem of a distorted market, its exploration is still useful. ION and Edge Computing, for example, are two areas of innovation to realize 5G’s promise of a new level of responsiveness and scale. Such innovation leadership, along with the Clean Networks initiative and supply chain security form three prongs in a global strategy for 5G.
Separately, the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) has issued a call to action to promote U.S. 6G leadership.
“While innovation can be triggered in reaction to current market needs, technology leadership at a national level requires an early commitment and development that addresses U.S. needs as well as a common vision and set of objectives,” said Susan Miller, President and CEO of ATIS, possibly in acknowledgement of the panic the U.S. has got itself into over 5G and of recent developments in China.
Comment, analysis and assessment:
Mobile standards are global in nature, so talk of regional races seems disingenuous if not counter-productive. It is bad enough that there are six competing IMT 2020 RITs (Radio Interface Technologies) from five different countries/regions being progressed by ITU-R WP5D for IMT 2020.specs with three based on 3GPP 5G NR (Release 15 and 16): China, Korea, India (TSDSI). In addition to 3GPPs RIT/SRIT submissions (from ATIS), there are also the DECT/ETSI IMT 2020 RIT submission based on DECT NR and the Nufront (Chinese company) submission based on their own 5G radio which supposedly supports ultra low latency.
What Attorney General Barr probably means is that he’s worried U.S. 5G networks are going to be second rate compared to the Chinese equivalent from Huawei and ZTE. However, he said that Open RAN is NOT a solution to the U.S.’ current “5G problem.” Barr and Ms Chiang say that ION is a more viable approach (what the *&^%$** is ION?). In particular, “ION becomes one of the areas where the United States and partner countries can lead in 5G innovation.”
Telecoms.com author Scott Bicheno wrote: “Any non-Chinese telecoms company with a few bright ideas would be well advised to stick close to the U.S. government as the public money tap seems to be well and truly open.”
Consumers can’t buy 5G phones yet. But China is already talking about what comes next: 6G. The concept of 6G is still very much unkown, but experts expect speeds in the range of 1 Tbps. Researchers have already achieved mobile speeds of 1 Tbps during lab trials.
The head of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s (MIIT) 5G technology working group, Su Xin, told local media he also expects 6G to deliver improvements across the same three areas as 5G will deliver – improved bandwidth, low latency and wide connection areas.
Su Xin, head of 5G technology working group at China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said that China is starting research into 6G concepts this year. The country first started looking into 6G in March, making it one of the first countries to do so.
Su said that the actual development of 6G will officially begin in 2020, but commercial use will most likely have to wait until 2030.
The arrival of 5G has been touted as a big deal. It’s not just because it promises to bring fast mobile internet, it should also enable us to connect with machines – like gadgets, industrial machines and autonomous vehicles. For those Rip Van Winkle readers, “5G” is the name of the next-generation wireless technology that promises far faster internet access than 4G-LTE. Experts predict it will begin to take off in 2019, well in advance of the IMT 2020 standard from ITU-R. So what is 6G supposed to bring that 5G can’t, especially for ordinary folks?
For one thing, it could make mobile internet speeds of 1 TB per second mainstream. This means you could download around 100 films in less than a second. (It’s worth noting that researchers at the University of Surrey in England have already achieved that with 5G… but only inside a lab.)
Of course, 2030 is a long way away, so the actual applications of this technology may be hard to imagine. As Verizon executive Andrea Caldini pointed out at this year’s Mobile World Congress, nobody expected Snapchat while developing 4G – it’s the increased speeds that made it happen.
According to Su, 6G could connect our devices more efficiently than 5G, expanding internet coverage to much wider areas.
“5G has three application scenarios: large bandwidth, low latency, and wide connection – I think 6G can achieve better application in all three scenarios,” Su told local media, noting that 6G could increase transmission rates by more than 10 times. “It may revolutionize the structure of the whole wired and wireless network.”
If this sounds vague to you, it’s because there is still no definition for the technology. And according to industry insiders, it is too early to talk about 6G. It took 5G ten years to develop its set of standards, and despite commercial deployment this year, they are still not fully settled. So is 6G even a thing?
Roberto Saracco, professor at the University of Trento in Italy, believes that 5G is still a fuzzy set of promises that will take time, probably ten years, before being fulfilled. As for the next generation of connectivity, “marketing will need 6G as soon as 5G is deployed,” writes Saracco. Researchers will need a term to mark the novelty of what they are doing or to put technologies that do not fit into 5G standards into another box.
The vagueness of the term has not stopped countries to start looking into the concept. Finland’s University of Oulu launched an 6G research program called 6Genesis. Aside from futuristic phrases like “interoperability sensing based ops” and “intelligent personal edge,” one of the applications mentioned on their site is wireless augmented reality/virtual reality.
It’s worth noting that this might be an application for 5G, judging by Tencent boss Pony Ma’s suggestion that the technology could enable WeChat VR.
The new 6G movement in China could also be a way to rub their tech advancement in other people’s faces. The country is already way ahead of US in deploying 5G, according to Deloitte. Since 2015, China outspent the US by approximately $24 billion in wireless communications infrastructure (with $400 billion more coming) and built 350,000 new cell phone tower sites – while the US is still stuck at less than 30,000.