ATIS Next G Alliance paves 6G roadmap

ATIS’ Next G Alliance has released its first report, outlining a roadmap for 6G in North America.

It comes after Next G Alliance formed in 2020 with an initial aim of developing a strategy and direction to set the foundation for a common vision to lead in 6G -  and less than a year after creation of the working group dedicated to building a 6G roadmap. The organization counts an array of stakeholders, including major carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, equipment vendors Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung, as well as Google, Meta, and Qualcomm, among its 80 members.

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To create the new 49-page report, the alliance brought together input from 600 subject matter experts across the member organizations, representing industry, government and academia.

“This report will ensure North America proactively aligns all critical sectors vital to 6G success to create a foundation for North American global leadership,” said ATIS President and CEO Susan Miller. “Beyond its technical contributions, the Roadmap shows how 6G can benefit society and industries in a variety of sectors – as well as how North America will become an epicenter of innovation-driven economic growth in a new era of wireless.”

The roadmap details six goals that represent top priorities for North America and ambitions for 6G. They include advancing trust, security and resilience; an enhanced digital world experience; cost efficiencies across network architecture; distributed cloud communications systems; future AI-native networks; and sustainability.

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It’s the product of the Next G Alliance national 6G Roadmap Working group, chaired by Nokia’s Amitava Ghosh.

“The report is the outcome of tireless effort from Roadmap Working Group leadership team and its members with support from other Next G Alliance Working Groups,” Ghosh said in the announcement. “It provides insight into how we can realize the six critical goals encompassing our North American vision for 6G and includes a lifecycle roadmap, a 6G timeline and recommendations for development of 6G technology.”

Government involvement also needed

Other regions of the world are also laying the groundwork for visions of future wireless systems, and the Next G Alliance isn’t solely focused on technology. While one aim is to help drive 6G from the start of R&D up to market readiness, another aspect is to identify steps that address government and policy actions or objectives to keep North America at the forefront for next-gen systems.

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The Next G Alliance highlighted three key areas it feels government support is vital to promote leadership in 6G including:

  • Policymakers working with industry and coordinating with other partner nations to establish a vision and clear policy framework for 6G.
  • Proactively supporting domestic R&D, including direct financial support and industry tax incentives for basic research; access to government testbed facilities; and bridging the gap between research and development to promote adoption of early-stage technologies.

“To successfully compete with the aggressive efforts of other countries, North American governments must provide resources to support industry-led, domestic-based research,” the report states, noting that heavily funded and government-directed efforts have already begun “by our largest economic competitors.”

  • A third area of government involvement revolves around additional challenges to achieve 6G leadership, related to spectrum needs, manufacturing base, skilled workforce and infrastructure deployment.

“Recognizing that these foundations take time to establish, one of the primary missions of the Next G Alliance is to bring industry, government, and academia to the table to begin working on these policies much earlier in the innovation lifecycle than has been done for previous generations,” the report states.

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5G systems are still in fairly early-stage rollouts in many parts of the world and 6G, which isn’t yet formally defined, is much further down the pipeline but regions and organizations are starting to envision and build frameworks. Europe has a flagship 6G project called Hexa-X, led by Nokia. China also is starting on 6G efforts, as is South Korea, among others.

There’s already some coordination among governments as well, with the U.S. reaching different agreements last year with the U.K., Japan, and South Korea related to 6G efforts.