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President Trump’s unexpected ally: Finland kick-starts 6G

A few days after Donald Trump tweeted about 6G, for which he was broadly ridiculed, Finland’s scientists proved he had a point by announcing their plan at MWC 2019 to get started on it.

Wei Shi

February 27, 2019

2 Min Read
President Trump’s unexpected ally: Finland kick-starts 6G

A few days after Donald Trump tweeted about 6G, for which he was broadly ridiculed, Finland’s scientists proved he had a point by announcing their plan at MWC 2019 to get started on it.

The researchers in Finland expect 6G to take shape in about 2030. To gain leadership by that time, the so-called “6Genesis” has been selected as the country’s flagship high-tech project for an eight-year period covering 2018-2026. The project is hosted by the University of Oulu, ranked a top 3 university globally in radio access engineering.

Professor Ari Pouttu, who leads the project, introduced the vision and key technology streams at the event. 6G will satisfy the requirements not yet met by 5G as well as new expectations fusing AI inspired applications with ubiquitous wireless connectivity, Pouttu said. Specifically, he anticipates four technology trends that are fundamentally different from earlier generations.

‘Wireless Connectivity’ in 6G is an evolution of the disruptive radio access deployed on 5G core networks, enabling Tbps speed and delivering unmanned processes. ‘Devices & Circuits’ tackles the fact that current semiconductors will not be able to operate on super high-frequencies. When communication takes place on frequencies above 500GHz or even at terahertz level, new materials will be needed to replace silicon.

‘Distributed Computing’ refers to moving the computing power to the extreme edge. For example, instead of conducting computing from the “brain” of the robot, in 6G environment computing will need to be moved to every limp tip of the robot to enable time critical and trusted apps. “Service & Applications” refers to the disruptive value networks enabled by multidisciplinary research across industry verticals, in contrast to the siloed approach to research and development now.

The Finnish government has already granted 6Genesis €25 million through the Academy of Finland. Five co-founders have signed up, including Nokia, VTT (Finland’s technology research centre), Aalto University, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, and BusinessOulu (local business promotional agency). The total funding of the project so far, including contribution from these partners, other national and EU grants, plus the Academy of Finland grant, amounts to €251 million.

Professor Pouttu quipped, while speaking to Telecoms.com, that this amount is for science fiction, not science. He may be on the conservative side with his estimation for science fiction though. “Avengers: Infinity War”, a recent sci-fi blockbuster, cost nearly $400 million (€350 million) to make.

Improving funding is clearly one of the reasons why the project was calling for more companies and institutions to sign up. The fact that the announcement was made during MWC could only mean that global partners are also being sought after. Professor Pouttu could consider pushing a tweet to President Trump directly.

Just in case there’s still any doubt about how serious the country is about this stuff, the world’s first 6G Wireless Summit will be held in March in Levi, a ski resort in Finnish Lapland.

About the Author(s)

Wei Shi

Wei leads the Telecoms.com Intelligence function. His responsibilities include managing and producing premium content for Telecoms.com Intelligence, undertaking special projects, and supporting internal and external partners. Wei’s research and writing have followed the heartbeat of the telecoms industry. His recent long form publications cover topics ranging from 5G and beyond, edge computing, and digital transformation, to artificial intelligence, telco cloud, and 5G devices. Wei also regularly contributes to the Telecoms.com news site and other group titles when he puts on his technology journalist hat. Wei has two decades’ experience in the telecoms ecosystem in Asia and Europe, both on the corporate side and on the professional service side. His former employers include Nokia and Strategy Analytics. Wei is a graduate of The London School of Economics. He speaks English, French, and Chinese, and has a working knowledge of Finnish and German. He is based in Telecom.com’s London office.

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