For decades, technology has permeated all aspects of business, sometimes overnight, as with smartphones, and others more gradually. Regardless, these changes build on the evolution of existing systems and are designed to change the way we work.
As we slowly but surely enter post-pandemic life, we are about to witness a whole new change that not only improves our tools and processes, but completely reinvents them. We all know that the pandemic has accelerated many things, but now is not the time for companies to take their foot off the gas. Now is the time to go further and faster and redefine global trade in a way that reflects the connectedness of society and places sustainability at the heart of it.
The 6G era
That’s because we’re entering the 6G era, a technology that has the potential to be almost unimaginably ubiquitous. In reality, we have virtually no idea of its potential at the moment, but according to Research&Markets, the global 6G market will reach $1,773.09 billion by 2035. That’s in just over a decade. How to respond to this should be on the agenda of all governments and companies in the world.
The European Commission recently launched a new flagship initiative with a budget of nearly €12 million to investigate 6G technology. HEXA-X is designed to be the “umbrella” that stretches far and wide across many policies and areas.
The ultimate goal of 6G is to address energy efficiency, digital inclusion or adaptability in sectors such as health and safety from 2030.
The EU is in a very strong position to play a global leadership role in setting the 6G standard. Europe is home to some of the best scientists in the world. According to this report, a third of all peer-reviewed scientific publications come from Europe. 20% of all global R&D and 25% of all ICT R&D takes place in Europe. The EU ICT Standards Observatory and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) are centrally involved in issues related to 5G standardization and will also be key players in the 6G standardization process.
What happens when connectivity becomes like air?
To understand the enormity of where we are going, it is important to understand where we are. We’ve made great strides with 5G, which was the foundation for a generation of many bold firsts. It was the first mobile network that was born in the cloud: it is programmable and open and has allowed the evolution of the IoT. But science and technology, combined with human insight and our inherent need to push boundaries, needs more. For example, some experts believe that 6G networks will one day allow us to reach speeds of up to one terabit per second (Tbps) on an Internet-enabled device. That’s a thousand times faster than 1 Gbps, the fastest speed available on most home networks today. This white paper from the 5G Infrastructure Association states that “6G will bring near-instantaneous, unlimited, fully wireless connectivity…revolutionizing the way businesses operate.”
6G will open the doors to applications such as smart cities, edge devices, autonomous vehicles, holographic communications, and satellite communications. Realizing these things is what will happen when connectivity becomes as common, abundant, and unobtrusive as the air we breathe.
A playing field that perpetuates and improves itself
Unlike 5G and previous generations of wireless technologies that aim to drive network performance towards higher bandwidth, lower latency, and higher reliability, 6G is seen as an enabling platform for computing innovations. , artificial intelligence (AI), connectivity, sensors, virtualization and more. It is designed to meet growing demands for global coverage, increased spectral efficiency, a lower carbon footprint, and more, with an emphasis on sustainability, fairness, trust, and security.
The challenge of sustainability is an example of this. It requires us to think beyond renewable energy. While energy consumption is an important aspect of sustainable practices, we must also consider issues such as land and water use, as well as the recycling and sourcing of materials used to make electronics. It’s a point recognized by the WEF, which recently said: “Connectivity will only evolve with the 6G era. It can help the world meet the demanding goals of the ‘carbon law’ and the Paris goals of halving emissions.” every decade.”
The shift we have experienced towards remote work is just the first step. AR/VR video conferencing and telepresence solutions will do much more to reduce carbon emissions; they won’t go away. However, these changes require tools that better support remote interaction. The same applies to every stage of business: how robots are used in the supply chain, how goods and data are stored, how and why offices work, etc. The key to unlocking the potential of these technologies is 6G, but the traditional way of developing these new systems will not work. It requires a foundation that is not only iterative, but can evolve as the data for the various components is created. We need a self-sufficient, self-improving, globally connected playing field.
I believe that the following initiatives are crucial to laying the foundation for a sustainable 6G.
Internet redesign for ubiquitous connectivity
The path to 6G requires a new fundamental architecture from the Internet to an Open Network to better support large applications like next-generation operating systems and automated cars and factories. This requires collaboration between the wireless, cloud, and networking industries and academia at all levels, from the dust to the cloud. With this in mind, the Open Grid Alliance (OGA) was founded; an industry consortium to define the next generation of Internet architecture, especially at the edge. OGA’s goal is to lay the foundation for automation on a global scale, not stopping at the cloud, or even at the edge. The goal is inclusive, global, multisectoral and multidimensional thinking, driven by the evolution of the Internet. By taking it from the hub of communication we now have to a shared global platform, we aim to do nothing less than create a better world.
This new world must include digital equality without technical or operational barriers, a world where thinkers and visionaries are encouraged to solve unsolvable problems and answer questions that have not yet been asked. And it certainly doesn’t stop there. VMware is developing concrete resources to help discover our mutual path to this better world and build a multi-cloud network that links heterogeneous resources from wireless, cloud and Internet providers to enable “hypercomposite” applications, that is, dynamically created applications. with resources of the right type, place, amount and time.
The Next G Alliance, in which we actively participate, is an 80-member consortium to define the roadmap and vision for 6G in North America, including social and economic needs. We also continue to develop an international collaborative research ecosystem to expand our 6G research and innovation portfolio, leveraging local strengths.
Our Life Automation vision is underpinned by the fusion of cloud, network, and AI technologies and an ideal built around fairness, sustainability, and trust. To chart a successful course toward 6G, the evolution of these underlying technologies must be aligned with the evolutionary cycle of human behavior, society, and technology as they influence each other to form a continuum of evolution. This continuum of evolution, the way people change, technology evolves and society responds, is how we want to shape the path to 6G. Promoting technologies that address human needs, improve and save lives. More importantly, technical innovations that allow people to grow in and with technology the way people want, not the way technology dictates. Recognizing Europe’s strengths, we have announced research grants for 6G-life and CeTI at TU Dresden and Telecommunication Networks Group (TKN) at TU Berlin to facilitate research and discoveries on life automation.
6G isn’t just an incremental upgrade to wireless, the cloud, or the Internet. It is the fusion of all this as the basis for a fully automated life based on automation on a global scale.
In the next decade, 6G will usher in a new era where billions of connected things, people and vehicles, robots and drones will generate Zettabytes of digital information. 6G will take on more challenging applications, such as holographic telepresence and immersive communications, and meet much more stringent requirements. It is not, therefore, only a digital revolution, but also a social one.
By: Joe Baguley (pictured), Vice President and CTO, EMEA, VMware