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September 13, 2021
Rotating Chairman of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, Eric Xu Zhiju, has teased a new book published by his company that says 6G will be ready by 2030.
That’s not an especially risky prediction, as new wireless generations tend to emerge at the start of each decade. Rather, this feels like Huawei (and by extension China) putting down a marker to the rest of the world on 6G. It’s effectively saying ‘we’ll be going ahead as planned with 6G whether the rest of the world cooperates or not.
“Huawei will define 5.5G and research 6G at the same time in the next few years, and it is a test of the whole industry’s imagination and creativity whether 6G can surpass (5G and 5.5G technologies),” Xu is quoted as writing on Huawei’s online community by Chinese government-controlled news site Global Times. Google Translate wasn’t up to the challenge so we’ll just have to hope that translation is accurate.
Tellingly the Global Times piece then bangs on about what a great job Huawei has done of handling all the stuff the US has thrown at it. “The US ban has hurt Huawei’s business to some extent, but has not been able to hurt it fundamentally,” it quotes ‘independent’ analyst Xiang Ligang as saying in the piece. “Backed by China’s vast market, Huawei managed to maintain its capital, staff team and research capabilities, which I believe will empower the company to push forward next-generation technologies and reinforce its lead in the global telecom industry.”
There doesn’t seem to have been any talk of a standard split, but Xu did stress the danger of creating impediments to global cooperation. “Whether the industries can achieve satisfying results (in 6G development) around 2030 largely depends on such factors as if the process of defining 6G is open enough, whether the participants are pluralistic, and if the communication is thorough enough,” he’s quoted as saying.
Telecom veteran expert Fu Liang, interviewed by the Global Times, was less reticent. “If political tensions worsen, it’s also possible that 6G will have two sets of standards instead one like in the past, but of course that will increase the costs of connectivity and bring losses to global companies,” he’s quoted as saying.
One probable innovation in 6G will be the basic radio-wave technology, with Dr Ronny Hadani, Chief Scientific Officer at Cohere Technologies, keen on something called OTFS. “4G and 5G are both based on Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) waveforms,” he said in an emailed statement.
“However, 6G is going to require a waveform that offers better performance and supports extreme and high mobility scenarios – a problem identified by several standards bodies and forums. Subsequently, one of the first major specifications for 6G is likely to be that it uses Orthogonal Time Frequency and Space (OTFS) as the basis for a new waveform. OFTS’s waveform is oblivious to distortion and therefore can offer much better performance and spectral efficiency. This will enable a whole range of high-mobility use cases already being associated with 6G.”
Sound good, although it should be noted the Cohere has been sniffing around this tech for some time. If we assume Hadani is right, might there be more than one way of going about OTFS? Or will there be some equivalent of the space race, with the first country to crack it claiming some kind of bragging rights over everyone else? It seems almost inevitable that 6G will be the most politicised mobile standard yet, but maybe that might also pull the US and China beck from the brink in this new cold war.
As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno
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