WIA President Jonathan Adelstein discusses 6G

The Wireless Infrastructure Association President & CEO Jonathan Adelstein spoke at FierceWireless’ recent 5G Blitz event, discussing how 5G is going to lay the roadmap for 6G.

Wireless releases a new “G” about every 10 years. 4G was developed around 2009-2010. “We then expected 5G to be developed by about 2020,” said Adelstein. “And sure enough right on track it was. Again on track, the International Telecommunications Union started the vision for 2030 and beyond and will pave the way for 6G right about 2030.”

He said WIA wants to make sure the U.S. is the 6G leader. “I’m glad the industry in the U.S., including many of WIA’s members announced the Next G Alliance in October 2020 because you really need an early start to remain competitive.”

One thing that will be necessary for 6G is more spectrum at higher frequencies.

“We saw higher and higher spectrum bands being used for 5G in the multi-type of spectrum deployments we’re seeing,” said Adelstein. “And now, we need new spectrum up to terahertz frequencies for 6G applications. And of course related network equipment such as radios and antennas need to be updated to support new frequency bands for 6G.”

He stressed that fully realizing the potential for 5G will really set the U.S. telecom industry up for success in the race for 6G.

“To achieve this, of course, our industry is deploying denser cell sites, both at the macro tower and the small cell level. We’re carrying signals at low-band, mid-band and the highest bands ever at millimeter wave frequencies.”

Since about 2017-2018 when 5G trials began, according to CTIA’s annual survey, over 417,000 cell sites were built and operational by the end of 2020, which is a 35% increase since 2016. 

“In just the two years since we implemented historic federal siting reforms that WIA championed both at the FCC and the states, more cell sites were built than in the previous seven years combined,” he said. “By achieving this kind of densification, 5G will pave the way, because 6G is going to require even denser networks than we’ve seen.”