Charting the Course to 6G

By: Reg Cox, Anita Doehler

The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN) guides a course for the future of communication networks by taking a proactive stance and emphasizing the need for new paradigms that enable intelligent technological evolution and successful value creation and delivery. NGMN’s recently published 6G Position Statement: An Operator View offers clear recommendations from the Mobile Network Operator (MNO) community, challenging the conventional approach of introducing a new technology generation by shining a light on the challenges our industry currently faces, and highlighting the importance of streamlining network operations, prioritizing sustainability and delivering compelling new 6G services and capabilities for the benefit of end-users. Our Position Statement is a call to the industry to embrace this transformative new direction.

A total of 19 strategic precepts were identified in this Position Statement, categorized into four groups. These four groups are:
  • Innovations and New Services – including new International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) 2030 features and seamless integration with fixed and satellite networks.
  • Operational Priorities – including a call for network simplification and operational automation alongside absolute energy reductions.
  • Guiding Principles – including a call for globally harmonized 6G standards and the clear imperative for no inherent hardware upgrade of the 5G radio access network (RAN) to support 6G.
  • Spectrum – Including the licensing of both existing and new IMT spectrum for IMT-2020 and beyond.

This article offers explanation of the details of the visionary stance of each group, highlighting the key insights in the ground-breaking publication.

Fostering Innovations and New Services

The MNO community believes that 6G will be built on and extend beyond the robust foundations of its predecessor, the 5G mobile network. This foundational continuity, however, does not diminish the challenges faced by MNOs. Infrastructure deployment is one such challenge, though in the right context infrastructure deployment may well be justified when delivering compelling 6G services to end-users. In addition to overcoming these challenges, MNOs are steering towards network disaggregation and an open, interoperable cloud-native architecture. This deliberate move toward network disaggregation and open cloud architecture is not just an operational necessity, but rather a strategic one aimed at enhancing flexibility for both current and future networks, and hence achieving an improved agility in responding to end-user demand.

Beyond the foundational aspects, 6G to is expected to transcend the capabilities of 5G and to continue delivering new innovations and new services, including, e.g., joint sensing and communications, Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration, extended augmented reality (XR/AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences, as well as enhanced positioning and seamless interoperability of fixed and satellite networks. Moreover, 6G should also continue to inherently support network-related application programming interfaces (APIs), fostering a conducive environment for the development of new service offerings that leverage the full spectrum of network capabilities.

Operational Priorities: Streamlining for Success

The MNO community within NGMN is committed to ensuring that 6G delivers not only tangible benefits and compelling new experiences to end-users, but also to simplifying network operations and ensuring sustainability. The operational priorities of our members serve as guidance for the industry, aiming to address practical challenges and ensure the seamless integration of 6G.

These priorities recognize the importance of network simplification in lowering operational costs through scalable and flexible deployment models. Another key operational priority is the implementation of absolute energy reduction measures across both mobile and fixed networks. This initiative supports a strategic shift towards


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