6G exploratory group to be led by wireless heavyweights

Networking’s biggest companies get seats on the FCC's 6G council advising on what comes after 5G.

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The FCC has named 44 people to a technological advisory council tasked with exploring the possibilities of 6G wireless connectivity, a large proportion of the council’s members being drawn from the ranks of the country’s biggest networking-technology corporations.

The chair of the committee will be a former Qualcomm executive, Dean Brenner. Intel, Cisco, Comcast, Microsoft, Nokia, Ericsson, and all of the major mobile operators are also represented on the commission’s Technological Advisory Council (TAC). Also representatived are large trade associations and academia.

FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that leadership in the 6G realm has to be a priority for the US.

“We know that maintaining our leadership in high-priority emerging technology requires careful planning and execution,” she said in a statement. “We are starting that work here and now by re-establishing the TAC and charging it to conceptualize 6G—to help set the stage for our leadership.”

6G is still the better part of a decade away, according to the experts – no surprise, given the continued slow progress toward 5G. But the promise of 6G is thought to be transformative, with speeds in the terabit range enabling hugely detailed virtual/augmented reality applications, mobile holograms and even precise digital replicas of real-world objects. 6G could also bring power-over-wireless capability, enabling a vast new range of battery- and wire-free IoT devices.

The technology will accomplish these lofty goals by optimizing spectrum use and taking advantage of frequencies in the terahertz range—even higher than the forthcoming millimeter-wave 5G deployments.

Nor is 6G the only technology that the new council will investigate. AI, spectrum-sharing techniques, and methods of keeping internet access working during emergencies will all be considered.

The group's first meeting is Feb. 28 and can be streamed from the FCC website.

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