What exactly is 6G and how much of a leap forward would it be?
December 6, 2019
Prof Simon Cotton, director for the Centre for Wireless Innovation in Belfast, is part of a team already looking beyond 5G into the world of 6G.
While some network providers are claiming that there is ‘no demand’ yet for 5G among consumers, elsewhere the rate of 5G adoption is increasing. However, research claims that it will not be until 2025 when the internet standard really starts making a real impression.
And yet, 5G is not the limit of where the technology can go, with some already looking ahead to 6G. One group looking at the concept in great depth is the Centre for Wireless Innovation (CWI), based at Queen’s University Belfast. Founded in 2016, the centre has rapidly gained international recognition as a leader in the area of physical layer wireless technologies.
In the space of three years, it has moved in the Academic Ranking of World Universities’ global ranking for telecom engineering from 150th to 28th. Siliconrepublic.com caught up with CWI’s director, Prof Simon Cotton, to find out more about its work.
Prof Simon Cotton, director of the CWI. Image: CWI/QUB
Working primarily in RF [radio frequency] through to sub-millimetre wave bands, we are creating technologies that will meet the future requirements of users; whether it be coverage, data rate, latency, connectivity on a massive scale or wireless imaging and sensing – irrespective of operating mode and environment.
This includes award-winning research on wireless sensors, designed to be worn by or implanted into humans; low cost millimetre-wave antenna arrays for next-gen cellular base stations; and entirely new network concepts such as cell-free massive MIMO.
Looking towards the future and our evolution, we will continue to seek out opportunities to work across disciplines, not only to help others solve the challenges they face, but also to learn how their research tools and methodologies can be employed to advance state-of-the-art technology in the wireless space.
For example, like many others, we are very excited about the role that technologies such as AI and machine learning will play in our research. We have already successfully applied a number of these tools to create wireless systems that can identify their users and operating mode.
Not only does this open the door for added levels of security, but also the ability to schedule the delivery of hardware and network resources before they are even requested – a fascinating proposition indeed.
The millimetre wave frequency band will provide massive connectivity to cellular users – both humans and machines – with very high bandwidth compared to that offered in 4G networks or early-stage 5G, below 6GHz.
With the concept of massive MIMO, the possibility to beam the bandwidth narrowly and precisely to each end-user is there, instead of scattering it everywhere within a cell.