Nokia, DOCOMO, NTT to Partner on 6G Technologies

(Image credit: Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay )

ESPOO, Finland—Nokia has announced a major partnership with DOCOMO and NTT to jointly define and develop key technologies for 6G wireless services. 

The companies said that they will focus on two proof-of-concepts for the emerging 6G technologies: an AI native air interface and sub-THz radio access. 

These aim to demonstrate a performance gain with an AI based 6G air interface compared to a conventional air interface, and to show that high-data rate beamformed access can be achieved in a high frequency band at 140 GHz.

Nokia and DOCOMO have a long history of pioneering wireless research that started with 3G in the 1990s and include work on both 4G and newer 5G offering, including 5G O-RAN. 

While deployments of 5G are ongoing and most experts believe 6G is years away, a number of telcos and researchers have been working to refine and develop next generation, 6G, of wireless technologies. 

In announcing the collaboration, Nokia said that it believes 6G will not just build on existing technologies and systems but expand and transform what a network can do, fusing the human, physical and digital worlds.  

To achieve that, Nokia has outlined six key technologies that will be vital components of future 6G networks: new spectrum technologies, AI native air interface, network as a sensor, extreme connectivity, cognitive, automated and specialized architectures, and security and trust.

Among the six key technology components, the initial focus of the partnership is to demonstrate the benefits of AI-based learned waveform in the transmitter with a deep learning receiver in the mid-band, as well as to test high data rate indoor communications in the sub-THz band. 

These technologies have the potential to substantially improve deployment flexibility and to increase network throughput beyond that of 5G in the respective spectrum bands without necessarily increasing energy consumption. 

Providing high-rate access will be important in enabling enhanced and new use cases in the 6G era, such as multi-modal mixed-reality telepresence and remote collaboration, massive twinning and collaborating robots.

The participating companies plan is to set up environments for experiments and demonstrations in DOCOMO and NTT premises in Japan and Nokia premises in Stuttgart, Germany, and to begin performing the desired tests and measurements in 2022.

"DOCOMO has been collaborating with Nokia since 2014 to accelerate the experimental trials for 5G wireless technology and promote the creation of new use cases,” explained 

Naoki Tani, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at DOCOMO. “We are excited to work with Nokia to realize the 6G concept. DOCOMO and NTT will now start the experimental trials of two 6G proof-of-concepts for high-rate transmission in the sub-THz band and AI native air interface, and contribute to 6G commercialization with vertical industry partners."

Peter Vetter, president Bell Labs Core Research, Nokia, added that “We envision that 6G will unify the human experience across the digital, physical and human worlds. We build on a long tradition of collaborations between the world-leading labs at DOCOMO and Nokia Bell Labs. Nokia is very honored to engage in this collaboration with DOCOMO and NTT, as global leading operators that are always among the first to bring new generations to the market. We look forward to working together and validating key concepts and key technologies to realize the 6G vision.”

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.