5G has not yet reached everywhere and not all users benefit from it, but more and more companies are beginning to prepare for the deployment of 6G, and debates are growing about what the future will look like with this technology.
Although its arrival is not expected until 2030, professionals in the sector are working on short-term goals to improve 5G and prepare the so-called advanced 5G, the intermediate step to the expected 6G.
On this path, each of the large technology companies has taken a direction.
Huawei, for example, prefers to talk about 5.5G.
And, as the company explains, "you cannot skip, it is a necessary step to reach 6G."
Miguel Barroso, an expert in architecture of 5G solutions at Huawei, explains: “With 5.5G we try to multiply by 10 the bandwidth objective that we had with 5G and reach 10 gigabytes.
This will enable other types of content and much more powerful solutions.
Another objective is to reduce the energy consumption of the network by 10”.
The Chinese company showed at the Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona at the end of February, some of its plans that it sees as more feasible in the near future.
In one of the demonstrations it was possible to see how, by fixing a chip similar to the current alarm labels to the boxes of products, the inventory could be done automatically in a logistics center: “They connect to the 5G network and the work is immediate , you don't have to scan, and that would even allow you to pay automatically.
These passive devices are connected to the network and it has located them”, explains Barroso.
A further step will be taken when sensor detection technology is implemented, something that most companies plan to integrate into 6G.
The sensors in the network will make it possible to detect any movement in the environment without the need for people, animals or objects to carry a device on them, as is the case now with GPS, for example.
One of Huawei's approaches is to use it to improve and guarantee security;
for example, in the circulation of automobiles.
“The network is capable of detecting that there has been an accident and notifying it, without the need to use GPS.
It could also be used to detect intruders, such as an animal that sneaks into an enclosure”, explains the Huawei engineer.
The technologies to which 5.5G opens the way in which the Asian company is working will also allow viewing in 3D without the need to use special glasses or make video calls with simultaneous translation.
However, Huawei faces a veto from the US, which claims a security risk if the Chinese company is allowed to deploy its 5G technology.
For the company, this issue "does not have much to do" with the work they are doing and their plans for the future.
“5.5 is still in the standardization process and there is no product.
Therefore, the task is still to define the standards and demonstrate that the technology exists”, says Miguel Barroso.
While Huawei faces uncertainty in the West, Samsung intends to seize the opportunity and deploy its networks in Europe, as it has already been doing in Japan or the United States, apart from South Korea, where its headquarters are located.
The company has already made deployments in the United Kingdom and has launched pilot programs in Germany and Spain (specifically, in Ciudad Real), with which it intends to verify the operation of the network so that conditions are the same for all operators , focusing on network virtualization and the so-called Open RAN, open networks.
Javier López, network solutions architect at Samsung Networks Europe, explains: “A very important factor for Samsung is that we have our own in-house chip production.
We have that capability that other providers don't have.”
The Korean company is working on reducing the size of the chips, lowering power consumption, designing different 5G network radios to adapt them to different customers, regions and frequencies... And adapting the existing infrastructure to the needs of 5G and 5G advanced.
“You cannot take all the terminals and throw them away;
you have to make a smooth transition and do it little by little”, explains the Samsung engineer.
Taiwanese companies can also take advantage of the spaces in which Huawei does not find it so easy to find a place, since they have enormous development in technology and telecommunications, but without the potential danger of political interference that worries the United States. companies from this country that attended MWC2023, Pegatron, which split from ASUS years ago, brought to Barcelona a portable 5G network solution designed for critical situations and very easy to transport for emergency services, a spokesman explained to this newspaper. of the company.
In the event of an earthquake or a major flood, for example, the rescue services could move the box in their vehicle and, once installed in the area where the network does not reach,
they could have that fast connection that they would need to communicate with the authorities or with other rescue teams, for example.
Since the government of Donald Trump in the US, some Taiwanese companies have replaced Chinese companies and have resorted to their chips from certain regions of the West, thus excluding, above all, Huawei.
In the fight to make their own 5G infrastructures dominate, more and more companies are launching their deployment in as many places as possible.
Nokia has been deploying its networks around the world for years and, as a sign of the weight this activity has in his company and that he is no longer dedicated to telephony, he took advantage of the MWC to renew his brand and insist that his thing is telecommunications .
The Finnish company is also working on solutions for the world of industry and, like Huawei, plans, for example, to automatically scan products in warehouses, but Nokia plans to carry out this activity with a drone that goes through each floor with merchandise and scanning all the boxes of products in the same row at the same time, greatly reducing the time that this task entails and without the need for an operator to have to do it manually on a crane.
Gloria Touchard, voice of customer CTO (something like head of customer voice technology) at Nokia, explains: "6G will not be seen until 2030, but we are working with the specifications and already defining what their cases may be of use.
We are going to change from a communication network to a sensory network.
What is expected from 6G is that the networks are continuously active, detecting all movements with the sensors and thus being able to react on any action that is being seen”.
The engineer assures that there is still a long way to go and it is a very big leap.
Even so, the European company also took advantage of the Mobile World Congress to demonstrate 6G and the sensors: when walking down a corridor, without a mobile phone on top or any other device,
Until that technology is ready to go everywhere, like the rest of the companies in the sector, Nokia is also working on advanced 5G.
According to Touchard, these networks “bring functionalities to be able to manage Internet of Things devices, which do not need a lot of bandwidth, but rather very fast access to the network.
They also bring improvements to support those devices or for augmented reality applications, where you need to not only download a lot of data, but upload a huge amount of data.”
However, despite all the advances that are being achieved and that remain to be achieved, the Nokia engineer clarifies that the rate of adoption of 5G networks is set by citizen devices: "You can have all the infrastructure deployed, but maybe not used.
In regions like South Korea, the percentage of devices that support 5G is very high, so the adoption has been very high.
In the US too, people renew the terminals earlier than in other regions and in the end they adopt the technology faster.
Here in Europe it has gone a little more slowly than in those leading areas”.
To this is added the process of granting licenses and spectrums to be able to operate, which are granted by the regulatory bodies of each country.
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