Dirk Kutscher

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AINTEC Panel on 6G Research

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I had the pleasure of moderating a on panel 6G Research Challenges at AINTEC-2023. The panelists were Serge Fdida, Abhimanyu Gosain, Jim Kurose, and George Michaelson.

Opportunities and Challenges for Future Network Systems Design?

The panel was discussing opportunities and challenges for future network systems design and tried to shed some light on what 6G might actually mean and what interesting research could and should be done.

5G Hype vs Reality

While many people are speculating about possible 6G features, it is quite instructive to review the adoption of current 5G technology. The panel discussed this from different perspectives. It was noted that quite many advanced 5G features, although specified, are not yet available, such as new core designs, low latency communication, positioning, and network slicing.

There may be different reasons for that. One reason that was mentioned the lack of demand. 5G seems to be mostly used as a reasonably fast bitpipe, i.e., as an access technology for mobile broadband. Economically, this means that it is difficult to monetize the network beyond that.

The panel discussed whether WiFi and 5G will integrate as just two "localized" link-level wireless technologies at the Internet edge, or whether 5G will actually provide a global end-to-end network, interconnected to the Internet.

Centralization and new Deployment Models

Another interesting topic is the evolution of deployment models and the changing nature of service provider and infrastructure providers. Not only are hyperscalers providing most of the "over-the-top" functionality and infrastructure today, they are also increasingly providing the cloud infrastructure and telco software functions, such as Microsoft with their "Azure for Operators" platform. The panel also discussed the issues of commercial consolidation and concentration in this regard.

Key Enablers for 6G

We discussed potential key enables for 6G, and the following topics were mentioned:

  • AI/ML Native Interface
  • New Spectrum Technologies: 7-24 GHz, 300GHz-1THz
  • Networking as a Sensor: Shift from Radio KPI to system and service focused
  • Communication-Compute-Data Centric
  • Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA): Security and Trust
  • Open Radio Access Networks

With respect to "Communication-Compute-Data-Centricity", we discussed whether it would be the mobile network infrastructure that would provide features in this direction, e.g., a better integration of computing and networking, or whether the network would just provide the access service, and computing etc. would continue being an application (also see my invited talk on computing in the network at AINTEC-2023). The panel expressed some preference for maintaing a separation of concerns, layering and the end-to-end principle.

Another topic that was discussed was the continuing "softwarization" and the application of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) principles. Future systems may see some more management support for applications (and application-related infrastructure), and there is certainly a trend towards more autonomous management and the use of machine learning for that.


Written by dkutscher

December 20th, 2023 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Publications,Talks

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