Determining the true nature of 6G is emerging as one of the great philosophical upheavals of our time, rivaling the intensity of the dispute between real ale versus sparkling ale or the perennial debate over the optimal time to introduce milk. in tea. -manufacturing process. It already threatens to be a contemporary technological equivalent of the Great Schism of 1054, when a priesthood spat for bread dividing the Christian church into Catholic and Orthodox strongholds.
There is more than just a fault line in 6G. On the purely technological level, two camps emerge, the conservatives and the revolutionaries. Conservatives believe 6G, the traditional way, should be an improvement over 5G, further increasing bandwidth for users and speeding up connections. Revolutionaries dream of wireless systems that would allow you to enjoy Wagyu steak cooked in Tokyo from your apartment in London.
The geopolitical schism between China and the United States complicates this split. No one who has paid the slightest attention to the past four years of deteriorating relations between the two superpowers can think of the era of 3GPP. cordial agreement are sure to last. The prevailing 5G inferiority complex has heightened mistrust and that no-man’s-land camaraderie, where Chinese and American engineers exchange gifts and stories about their hometowns before releasing their latest algorithms, is likely over. It is uncertain how many 6Gs will eventually arrive, but the 6G used in China may be as undesirable in the United States as Edward Snowden.
Distraught or shy?
In this uncharted territory, Huawei is either adrift as everyone else or hiding its position on the radar. Eric Xu, one of the top executives of the Chinese seller, says the confusion arises two years after he said 6G was at the forefront of his thoughts. “We believe 6G will hit the market around 2030, but we don’t yet know what 6G is,” he told Huawei’s analyst summit this week in Shenzhen. “If the global industry has a limited imagination and we can’t come up with compelling use cases, maybe 6G isn’t needed.”
Say what? It wouldn’t be the first time someone in telecommunications has suggested that the blame ends with 5G. Neil McRae, a senior tech executive at BT, expressed hope in late 2017 that 6G might be useless if 5G is delivered. However irony this suggestion may be, a truly future-proof mobile technology would have obvious appeal to an operator investing in networks and spectrum, without any increase in revenue, each time a new generation arrives. This would hardly suit an architect and a beneficiary of the upgrade cycle.
But Xu is right. Faster connections and lower latency are annoying and may not require a whole new generation of technology. Connected taste seems too futuristic to be achievable in just nine years. His supporters might as well have suggested a self-driving car. In the mix are visions of quantum computing, open RAN, and cloud-native networks, none of which will excite many people who don’t live and breathe software code.
The best Huawei can offer is 5.5G, an all too familiar marketing attempt to revitalize 5G after its disappointing start. Much of this is to replace the famous 5G triangle ?? the increasingly irrelevant one that associates four- or five-letter abbreviations with broadband, low latency and IoT service categories? with a 5.5G hexagon. There you have it, instead of three categories of services, there are six. The new ones are basically mashups of the three originals. Mix high speed and low latency to achieve real-time high speed communication (RTBC), low latency and IoT for harmonized communication and detection (HCS), or IoT and high speed for high speed communication uplink centric (UCBC).
Change of form
This alphabet soup will likely thicken as the 5.5G hexagon gives way to the 5.75G dodecagon and 5.9G icosahedron. But despite all the form changes, the most surprising transformation might be the one happening at Huawei. With no quick response to the U.S.-imposed component blockade, the company said this week it would change course, prioritizing software and non-telecoms activities. 5G? Who even needs that, really?
Maybe not the auto companies that Huawei now sees as the next growth story. “5G or 5.5G is not a necessity but a practical solution to support autonomous driving,” said Xu. “The capacity of 5G has been overstated.” Before Trump, such a statement would have been as sacrilegious as the use of unleavened bread by an Orthodox priest. But that was when Huawei could still source the necessary chips for 5G products.
Its public apathy towards 5G and 6G therefore accompanies a strategic pivot that follows the crippling blow struck by the American authorities. Huawei is hardly on the verge of ditching the networking equipment and smartphone companies that still generate the bulk of its revenue. He seems to be hoping that non-US semiconductor alternatives will eventually save him. But he’s obviously started to prepare for a future in which artificial intelligence, cloud, and software may feature more prominently in his lexicon than 5G, 6G, and hardware.
“We are certainly looking forward to what 6G will be, but 6G may not come,” Xu said ironically. “Still, we need to prepare for a possible advance in 6G with the necessary investments.” It’s a safe bet that Huawei or the Chinese successors inheriting its technology will have a say in the Chinese 6G market, not to mention the seeding of artificial intelligence. Another even safer one is that today’s global tech ecosystem is following the path of the 11th century church.
?? Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading