September 30, 2023
Unit-927, JMD Megapolis, Gurugram

The future of telecom is here – 6G

6G – what, where and how?

Key Takeaways from the report:

  • Large-scale and government-backed projects are being carried out across the globe for the development and implementation of 6G.
  • Blockchain, DLT (Distributed Ledger Technologies), Intelligent Radio (IR) Edge-AI, ML, and a host of other advanced technologies form the brain of 6G.
  • For 6G, a new measurement concept of quality-of-physical-experience (QoPE) will be needed.
  • Till now, we do not have any relevant standardization of 6G specs. In order to track new innovations and developments in 6G, one can track technical literature pertaining to 6G-enabling technologies such as Terahertz Technology, Quantum Communication, etc.
The Evolution, Roadmap and Prominent players:

Research on the core technologies for 6G began in Finland at the University of Oulu with a starting budget of €50 million, followed by Virginia Tech and companies like Samsung and LG. Several prominent companies like Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, and others, have also contributed to it. Numerous projects are being launched globally and multiple countries across the globe are setting up their own funding programs for this coming-of-age era of 6G. These projects primarily focus on going beyond 5G and towards 6G.

Project 6G Flagship, part of the Finnish Flagship programme, funded by the Academy of Finland aims to aid companies to finalize 5G and to lay a full-stack model of all the research and innovation for 6G. Besides these, there are several other projects like RISE-6G, NEW-6G, various 6G hubs and national initiatives by countries like Germany and more.

In Europe, the leading contributor to 6G is Nokia which leads the Hexa-X project. It aims to lay the technical foundation for the wireless systems of the B5G/6G (Beyond 5G/6G) era. The Hexa-X project includes 25 participants with a shared vision of serving three worlds at the same time – a) a human world of intelligence and values; b) a digital world of information c) and a physical world of processes. It is being funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a strategic European partnership on Smart Networks and Services as a Joint Undertaking (SNS-JU) that will coordinate research activities on 6G technology. Entities such as Nextworks, Orange, Huawei, Ericsson and others are involved. It is funded by the telecom industry and the EU with a budget of the SNS JU being at least €1.8 billion for the period 2021-27.

The next prominent player on the list is the NextG Alliance. Combining the efforts originating from the US and Canada, it is an ATIS initiative setting its goal to make wireless technology greener while advancing it across all fields of application including Aerospace, Agriculture, Defense, Education, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Media, Energy and Transportation, all of which are vital to U.S. interests.

In North America, Resilient & Intelligent NextG Systems (RINGS) by NSF (National Science Foundation) has an open portal to submit proposals displaying technological advances in networking, sensing and computing-application aspects. The main motive for the project is to accept and develop ideas contributing toward NextG wireless and mobile communication impacting the modern upcoming world. The US Department of Defense is among the members of this project, along with other organizations such as IBM, Google, Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, NSIT (National Institute of Standards and Technology), to name a few.

In India, the Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI) has submitted its ideas for the draft document named ‘ITU-R M. [IMT.VISION 2030 and BEYOND]’ – this document entails the vision for IMT for 2030 and beyond.

China, Japan and Korea also have their own discrete 6G projects majorly contributing toward the advancement of revolutionary wireless communication technology in the coming decades.

The implementation and enablers:

6G can pave the way for wirelessly connecting almost everything – autonomous cars, humans, drones and gadgets, etc. Since there will be a humongous amount of data, research has led the way to use Terahertz (THz), sub-THz, infrared and visible light bands to enable 6G and meet its stringent requirements. The core technologies of the 6G era are Blockchain and DLT (Distributed Ledger Technologies) going hand-in-hand with Edge-AI, ML and multitudes of other technologies fused together to form one giant ‘brain’ for 6G.

The following can be termed as the enablers for 6G:

  • Intelligent Radio (IR)
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Intelligent Wireless Communication
  • Smart surfaces
  • Quantum Communication
  • Efficient Energy Transfer and Harvesting
  • Compressive Sensing
  • Connected Robotics and Autonomous Systems

To deploy 6G in its full glory, a smart surface will be spread out like a blanket over the land. These surfaces will be of two kinds – Large Intelligent Surfaces (LIS) and Intelligent Reflecting Surfaces (IRS). The LIS is electromagnetically active in the physical environment and imposes little restrictions on how antennas spread the waves while consuming power inefficiently. To eliminate any inefficiency, the IRS is used in place of active antennas in the LIS. The IRS reflects the signals intelligently to improve data rate, signal quality and network coverage by controlling the incident waves’ reflection characteristics. On top of this, 6G will basically have a space-air-ground-sea integrated network (SAGSIN), enabling global communication wirelessly ranging from 10,000 km in the sky to 20 nautical miles at sea!

6G which is a blockchain-based network will ensure auditability, transparency and data integrity; and will also protect data security and privacy (control access). Built on the concept of hash trees, blockchains can hold colossal amounts of data while being tamper-proof as each block is linked to another, making it possible to verify the data back to the genesis block. Adding the magic of AI to this, a new Evolved-Proof-of-Work (E-PoW) consensus was proposed to improve the computing efficiency of 6G systems. As a bonus, this also ensures the decentralization and security of the classic blockchain systems.

6G devices can be expected to be capable of accurate positioning and direction sensing imitating the capability of humans. 6G devices will not only have better night vision or render better images than the human eye but will also infiltrate walls and significantly employ AR + VR or Xtended Reality (XR).

The upgrade from existing technology:

With the development of new technology, 6G will not only dominate but surmount the existing systems. Technologies like – SSNs (Self Sustaining Networks), Millimeter-wave (mmWave) communication, Massive and ultra-massive MIMO, and wireless brain-computer interactions are lined-up to be incorporated.

Using the higher part of the radio spectrum arguably decreases the amount of data that can be carried and the range of terahertz radiation is approximately 10 meters which is much too short for significant 6G coverage. So, the signals will need to be amplified better, eliminating the need to build numerous 6G towers all over the place. Perhaps, by 2030, we may be able to solve this wrangle with finesse or more interestingly, find another solution to carry vast amounts of data altogether.

Currently, for 4G/5G, networks are being measured for their QoS (Quality of Service). For 6G, a new measurement concept of quality-of-physical-experience (QoPE) will be needed. This is because of the fact that 6G will be a merger of the human senses with machine intelligence. It is being referred to as the “Teleportation of the Senses” by NTT DoCoMo; it is envisioned that 6G will make it “possible for cyberspace to support human thought and action in real-time through wearable devices and micro-devices mounted on the human body”.

To summarize the upgrade, it can be said that networks were moving towards ‘softwarization‘ up until 5G, and now with 6G, it changes slightly to network ‘intelligentization’. Another way of saying this is – 6G will enable us to step up from having ‘human-machine’ interactions to having ‘human-like-machines’.

Information from Relevant Patents (the source of early research) and how to track it:

It is well speculated that 6G will cause a surge in patenting activity and IP development in the coming times. Since 6G is yet to be standardized, there is no official way to know if a patent relates to 6G implementation or otherwise. We set out to locate some patents that mention certain enabling technologies for 6G – that can be considered relevant to 6G. Below is a quick assessment of a few such patents –

Enabling Technology

Analyzed patent(s)

Terahertz Technology / Terahertz wave:

US20210119496A1 (from VoiceLife) mentions wireless power-based methods and systems for power transmission which include placing a terahertz receiver device within a terahertz wireless signal search range of a terahertz transmitter device.


US10529003B2 mentions an optical diagnostic bio module having a tunable light source that produces terahertz emission.

Transceivers Integrated with Frequency Band:


US11189922B2 mentions a cellular system. The processor is connected with 6G transceivers and antennas. Antennas are in communication with a predetermined target using the 6G protocol.

Air Interface Technology / air-space-sea-ground integration technology (AI-based):


CN113259945A (from Wuhan Res Institute of Posts & Telecommunications) mentions an optical air interface device in a 6G network-based floodlight communication architecture

Quantum Communication:


CN113596135A (Xiamen Tanhong Information Technology) mentions a blockchain system and data processing method for a 6G base station

Connected Robotics and Autonomous Systems:


WO2021156647A1 mentions a multi-functional robotic platform for mass installation of robotic kitchens. The multi-mode operations of the robotic kitchen provide different ways to prepare food dishes and interact with the various elements of a robotic kitchen, such as the robotic effectors, other subsystems, and containers, ingredients.

Till the time there is no authorized standardization of 6G documents, it would be beneficial to track relevant documents on the basis of enabling technologies (as we have done in the above table).


With multiple programs worldwide and significant patent resources already in place, we might see a full-scale implementation of 6G sooner than expected. The concept of network intelligentization in 6G seems to have endless possibilities in terms of upgrading almost everything around this. As we try to track recent developments in 6G, we realized that the best way to gather insights on the upcoming 6G-related technologies is to focus on the ‘enabling technologies’ and the kind of solutions being provided to solve critical issues corresponding to the ‘enabling technologies’. This will provide us a glimpse of how 6G will eventually function and revolutionize tech all around us.

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