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3GPP is setting the guidelines for 6G standardization

Shapes and forms

Today marked a pivotal moment in shaping the discourse for 6G. 3GPP just kicked off a key workshop that will define the use cases for 6G networks. These use cases will determine how 6G networks are designed, how they are built and the types of features they will support.

This workshop isn't merely a single event; it signifies the commencement of many comprehensive discussions ahead. But this week, we workshop participants laid out the guiding principles for our future 6G work: sustainability, building on 5G’s success and global collaboration. These three principles will establish a framework for all our discussions on 6G uses cases and ultimately allow us to create a 6G standard that will truly matter to our customers and society as a whole. Let’s take a look at these three principles one by one.

Sustainability is key

A recurring theme that emerged from the workshop is the paramount importance of sustainability as a foundational requirement for 6G. Sustainability in this context encompasses various dimensions, including reducing the industry's environmental footprint, fostering sustainable business growth through digitalization, bridging the digital divide and safeguarding critical assets.

A key element in achieving sustainability goals is to focus on reducing energy consumption in both networks and devices, thereby mitigating the carbon footprint associated with the exponential growth in network traffic. Additionally, energy efficiency on the device side is ensuring long battery life for a wide range of form factors, which is essential for driving the adoption of 6G services and devices. 3GPP intends to accelerate an ambitious energy- efficiency plan in 6G through early engagement in standardization and ecosystem development.

Building on the success of 5G and enabling immersive experiences

While 6G will support many new use cases, it is expected that the 6G day-one service focus will predominantly build on the 5G’s success. 6G will allow us to provide a multitude of 5G services in a more efficient, secure, resilient, economic and sustainable way. The most promising new use case family we have identified for 6G is interactive applications which require a combination of high dependability, strict low latency and potential high data rates in both uplink and downlink. Examples of such use cases include: XR, Metaverse, compute off-load (incl. AI/ML capabilities), real time Digital Twin, remote-X and industrial control.

Global collaboration is increasingly important

The workshop also underscored the growing importance of global collaboration in shaping the future of mobile technologies. The collaborative efforts seen at this workshop are indicative of the need for ongoing international cooperation as the industry transitions to 6G.

As 3GPP defines requirements and use cases for 6G, it is imperative for stakeholders to continue providing input to ensure that diverse sector needs are incorporated into the standards development process. This inclusive approach not only enriches the standards but also fosters a more valuable and globally interoperable 6G ecosystem.

The success of 6G will hinge on global standards and ecosystem development across all regions, avoiding fragmentation that could impede progress. The collaborative spirit that has characterized previous generations of mobile technology standards — 3G, 4G/LTE, and 5G/5G-Advanced — must continue to drive international cooperation and interoperability in the 6G era. By working together across boundaries, the global community can realize the full potential of 6G, ushering in a new era of connectivity and innovation.

By addressing key industry challenges and fostering collaboration among experts, 3GPP is laying the groundwork for a future where connectivity is not just faster but more sustainable, intelligent and inclusive. As we move forward, it's imperative for all stakeholders to stay informed, and contribute to these developments, as they will ultimately shape the way we experience and benefit from technology in the years to come.

Feifei Lou

About Feifei Lou

Feifei is Principle Standardization Lead at Nokia and Nokia Head of Delegation for 3GPP SA1 and GSMA Networks Group. In her 18 years of telecom industry experience, Feifei has held strategic, standardization and programme management positions at Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance and China Mobile. She has a comprehensive strategic thinking over global mobile ecosystem and extensive experience with international organizations. She has an M.S. from Rice University and a B.E. from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

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