A Concept for Evaluating sub-THz Communication for Future 6G

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  • Author: Stefan Parkvall, Robert Baldemair, Erik Eriksson, Mattias Frenne, Ajit Nimbalker and Claes Tidestav

Over the last three decades, cellular connectivity has undergone a remarkable evolution, going from voice-only systems to mobile data and IoT connectivity, serving not only smartphones but also facilitating new usage scenarios such as factory production, logistics, and smart cities with 5G NR from 3GPP representing state-of-the-art cellular standards. A similar evolution has taken place in other areas. For example, compute platforms have evolved from monolithic software run on mainframe computers via personal workstations into today’s micro-service-based cloud computing. The evolution of compute power has enabled big data analytics and machine learning. Clearly, the evolution in these areas will continue. 

In parallel, the research community has started to discuss 6G and wireless communication in 2030 and beyond. At that point, society has been shaped by 5G for 10 years, and new needs and services have appeared. It is expected that 6G systems will address multiple overlapping technical areas. Apart from limitless connectivity, that is, meeting all the connectivity needs of future applications, 6G will also further stress aspects such as trustworthy systems (protection and resiliency against intentional and unintentional disturbances), cognitive networks (where networks autonomously can perceive what is happening, take the appropriate actions, and explain to the operator why a certain action was taken), and network-compute fabric (the convergence of communication and compute into a single innovation platform).

To better understand the properties of sub-THz communication, Ericsson and Intel have jointly developed a concept to study the feasibility and performance of communication at these high frequencies, focusing on two important aspects: extensive use of beamforming and efficient processing to achieve very high data rates and/or super low latency. Implementations Ericsson and Intel 2023 based on this concept can be used to evaluate sub-THz communication and various related technology components. The remainder of this paper will describe the concept in detail and motivate the reasoning behind different design choices.

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