Conference on 6G in Nanjing calls for global cooperation, highlights China's critical role

Date:2024-04-23 Source:

Global 6G Conference was held in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province from Tuesday to Thursday and called for global cooperation to develop the next generation telecommunications technology, highlighting China's critical global role in the endeavor.

Experts from across the globe, industry insiders, as well as market observers, stated on Wednesday that it's important for 6G-related enterprises and academic circles to exchange views and expand cooperation to ramp up efforts in promoting the development of next-generation mobile communications technology.

According to the organizers, 6G development is vital for a new wave of technological revolution and industrial transformation. As the world's major economies accelerate the research and development (R&D) of 6G, governments, enterprises, and academia in various countries are increasing efforts to invest in 6G technology research.

Counting down to commercialization around 2030, the groundbreaking technology will realize a platform-based service network. Experts noted that compared with 5G technologies, 6G will cover a wider range of fields with higher speed, greater security, and stronger computing power, better supporting the real economy development.

Meanwhile, participants from around the world also called for the establishment of unified global 6G standards, as global competition over standards-setting in the telecommunications industry continues to heat up.

Currently, 6G standards are still under development by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), which is committed to creating the mobile broadband standard. Global academia, as well as high-tech companies, are eager to participate in formulating global 6G standards and promoting commercialization.

6G cannot merely be seen as an expansion of 5G technology; it not only means faster internet speed but also the integration of key technologies such as advanced communication, sensing, and computing, as well as AI technology. It is believed to further promote the development of immersive communication, autonomous driving, AI of Things (AIoT), and other application scenarios, having a huge impact on people's way of life.

As the world enters the second half of 5G, new technologies such as AI represent evolution. It is a tremendous challenge because 6G will focus more on the deployment of new hardware or upgrades, Patrick Yue, a Hong Kong-based scholar, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

According to many participants at the conference, China leads in almost every aspect of 5G global standards. However, obstacles and challenges remain in developing 6G technology, facing external challenges such as fierce international competition and mounting pressure from US technological crackdown on China.

Innovation is the only solution, experts said, noting that despite attempts by some Western countries to hinder China's technological development through obstacles in forming unified international standards, China's steady adherence to opening-up and global collaborations remains unchanged.

Wu Hequan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the Global Times on Wednesday that with the relentless efforts of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) under the United Nations, 6G has entered the international agenda for setting standardization. He stated that what 6G will achieve and its effects are still not agreed upon, and more research and discussions are needed. "We are basically on the same starting line as our Western counterparts, and it will take a lot of efforts to lead the world again in 6G development," he added.

Facing fierce international competition, China has its pathway and visions in developing 6G, said Chinese experts, mentioning advantages in talent cultivation, research teams, and robust growth in manufacturing industries. Also, in the context of technological protectionism, it is crucial to build a cooperation mechanism with global partners that is sustainable and mutually beneficial, they said.

The Chinese government is ramping up efforts to cultivate new high-quality productive forces by promoting the development of high-tech, including 6G, and showing the international community the willingness to expand cooperation.

In April 2023, China's industry regulators said they would focus on key areas to achieve breakthroughs in multiple key sectors, including 6G network devices and quantum computers, to advance technological development.

By 2027, the country aims to enhance the comprehensive strength of industries of the future with some sectors leading the world. It also aims at breakthroughs in key technologies, with the wide application of new technologies, products, and models. This process will also involve pushing technological innovations and industrial scaling to reach international levels in select sectors.

"In the future development of 6G, we can expect more opportunities brought by this new technology," Zhang Xinsheng, a senior consultant of the MIIT, said.

In terms of industrial applications, You Xiaohu, head of the Nanjing-based Purple Mountain Laboratories, said that 6G plays an important role in the development of digitalization and the transformation of social and economic sectors, highlighting the need for forward-looking 6G deployment in critical sectors, steering development toward high-end, intelligent, and green directions, and accelerating the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries.

6G wireless technology will be used in AI large language model development amid the ongoing generative AI race. It is believed to be widely used in application scenarios such as AI, quantum computing, autonomous driving, low-altitude economy, and meta universe, Bi Qi, chief technical officer at the China Telecom Research Institute, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

"China is one of the best in developing 6G," KyungHi Chang, professor at Inha University in South Korea, Chairman of the Executive Committee of 6G Forum told the Global Times on Wednesday.

6G is the integration of key technology of communication, sensing, computing AI technology, said the Koran expert. "There should be three drivers for 6G technology development: government policies, expert like us, and then the market," he added.

As China is now actively working on 6G technology with many international companies and organizations, foreign experts believe that international collaboration in this area is of great importance.

"From Ericsson's side, we are actively engaged in researching and exploring the opportunities and possibilities that 6G will provide. And we do this in global collaboration with all our partners, both customers and academic partners across the globe," Johan Söder, head of Radio Networks from the Sweden-based Ericsson Research, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

6G development is still in its early phase on both technological and industrial levels. In the 6G era, which is about to arrive around 2030, there will be a more digitalized and programmable world that will ultimately form trustworthy, reliable, and limitless connectivity based on the 6G network platform. This platform needs to be a cognitive network to fully support use cases in a cost-efficient way.

"We will see 6G becoming standardized and first commercial products around the 2030 timeframe because where there is a technical need, there is a possibility to monetize the new services," Söder said.