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In the 6G war, who will have the right to speak in future communications?

Every technological innovation will bring great changes to our life. In the 1G era, we have realized mobile calls, and mobile communication has entered thousands of households. The 2G era has completed the freedom of calling for us, regardless of the distance, regardless of time. 3G brings the freedom of surfing the Internet, upgrading from a mobile communication network to a mobile Internet. From then on, as long as there is a 3G signal, you can communicate with the world in real time. The 4G era has created a prosperous Internet economy.

Multimedia services have thrived on the ubiquity of high-speed data connections. In the rich all-media era, we have realized online video calling, sharing selfies, live broadcasting, etc. With the rapid development of the mobile Internet, the new industries and things born thereupon are also growing explosively. So such a huge mobile data traffic that the 4G mobile communication system cannot meet needs to be realized by the next generation mobile communication system. This 5G came into being.

As a new type of mobile communication network, 5G not only needs to solve people-to-people communication, but also provides users with more immersive and extreme business experiences such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and ultra-high-definition (3D) video. Object-to-thing communication issues to meet the needs of IoT applications such as mobile medical care, Internet of Vehicles, smart home, industrial control, and environmental monitoring. Ultimately, 5G will penetrate into all industries and fields of the economy and society, and become a key new infrastructure that supports the digital, networked, and intelligent transformation of the economy and society. All in all, 5G is the “last mile” to effectively connect and serve the masses. 5G promotes the development of the driverless industry. 5G makes industrial automation smarter. 5G will allow mobile phones to develop from smart to smart. 5G complements the current blockchain technology.

In the process of network updates and iterations, my country’s communication technology has also reached a new historical height with the advancement of 5G. At present, my country has opened and constructed 993,000 5G base stations, and the number of terminal mobile phone users has reached 392 million. In addition, the number of 5G patents in my country accounts for more than 38%. Judging from these figures, our 5G technology is already in the leading position in the world. Needless to say, this is something we are very proud of.

And we are not the only country in the world that pays attention to the development of communication technology. Looking around the world, every country understands how important communication is to the development of a country in today’s world development. 6G after 5G has become another important breakthrough. 6G, the sixth-generation mobile communication standard, may increase transmission capacity by 100 times compared to 5G, and network delay may also be reduced from milliseconds to microseconds.

In fact, our country is also actively researching and developing 6G technology. After we have achieved such excellent results in 5G, countries are also paying attention to China’s next development and starting operations one after another. So to what extent have countries in the world, including China, developed 6G?

1. China

As early as March 9, 2018, Miao Wei, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, said that China had started to study 6G. As of September 2021, Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Chinese version: Nikkei Chinese Network) has conducted a survey on 6G-related patents that help bring the right to speak in standard formulation. From the perspective of the number of 6G patent applications, China ranks first in the world.

Image source: Nikkei Chinese website

The survey analyzed about 20,000 registered and pending patents in Japan, the United States, Europe, China, South Korea and international applications in nine fields including communication technology, base station technology, and artificial intelligence (AI). The number of patents of Chinese enterprises reached 40.3% of the total. Then American companies ranked second with 35.2%, and Japanese companies ranked third with 9.9%. 8.9% in Europe and 4.2% in South Korea.

Previously, the State Intellectual Property Office of China stated that 6G patents accounted for 35%, and there were some doubts, but the survey, which was limited to enterprises, showed that the actual proportion was higher. This is an improved share compared with the 35% China controls 5G essential patents such as Huawei and ZTE Corporation (ZTE).

In terms of fields, China has advantages in infrastructure fields such as base stations and artificial satellites, while the United States has advantages in the field of software. In the field of basic technology, Chinese companies such as State Grid account for more than half of the top 20.

From the perspective of base station technology, Qualcomm of the United States, Ericsson of Sweden, and Huawei of China are in the forefront. In the field of software technology such as AI and VR, Microsoft and Intel of the United States are in the forefront. Japanese companies are stronger in antenna control and signal radiation technology, and NTT, Sony Group, Panasonic, and Mitsubishi Electric rank among the top 20 in base station technology. These data also show to a certain extent that the more advanced the technology is, the more the number of applications will be.

Most of the applications are related to infrastructure, and most of these applications are applied by Huawei. At the same time, the State Grid Corporation of China and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation are also units that have more patent applications. In addition, many other companies have begun to lay out the 6G market, such as ZTE, oppo and so on.

Some analysts believe that the more you have a large number of related patents, the more you will have an advantage in standard formulation. Huawei’s meeting minutes released on September 15, 2021 revealed that the CEO (CEO) Ren Zhengfei stated in the company that there is huge room for 6G growth and requested to obtain 6G patents. Controlled by others.” On April 12, 2021, Xu Zhijun, Huawei’s rotating chairman, said at the Huawei Global Analyst Conference that 6G will be introduced to the market around 2030. the

Judging from the current data, my country’s advantages in the 6G market are in a leading position in the world, and it is still working hard to explore more possibilities. In the face of coercion, we will be steadfast in overcoming difficulties.

Second, the United States

In addition to China, the United States is also actively deploying the development strategy of the 6G market. On March 15, 2019, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to pass the decision to open the “terahertz wave” spectrum, hoping that this technology will one day be used for 6G services.

On April 16, 2021, the leaders of Japan and the United States confirmed that the two countries will invest a total of 4.5 billion US dollars in the research and development of the next-generation communication standard “6G”, which strives to be practical in the 2030s. The two sides also agreed to cooperate on supply chains such as semiconductors. The reason why the United States operates in this way is that in addition to the great appeal of 6G, it also wants to regain its leading position in communication technology.

In the field of 5G, Huawei, which holds a large number of base station and terminal patents, has led the standard formulation on the stage of the United Nations professional agencies and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) participated by large companies in the world.

The United States hopes to reduce China’s sense of presence in the process of formulating 6G international standards through sanctions against Huawei. However, there are voices in international organizations that “it is difficult to start discussions without only excluding China” (International Telecommunication Union executives). the

In addition, the United States is also showing a trend of moving closer to South Korea. For example, Verizon Communications (Verizon), a large US mobile operator, signed a large procurement contract with Samsung, which ranks fifth in base station share. After Motorola sold its terminal business and reduced its infrastructure, the United States’ presence in the communications field has declined, but it seems that it wants to curb China’s dominance.

“The United States will exclude China and continue to win over other countries, but the intensification of confrontation is ultimately not good for anyone,” said Bao Shi, head of the 5G research and development promotion team of Japan’s Information and Communications Research Institute (NICT).

In the United States, the alliance “NextGAlliance” joined by Google and Apple is at the core, leading the development of 6G. The Biden administration of the United States proposed in the Japan-US joint statement that the two countries will invest a total of US$4.5 billion in 6G development. Relevant patent surveys also show that Qualcomm, which holds 23% of wireless technologies such as antenna control, has a prominent presence. In the United States, semiconductor companies are considered to play a central role in the 6G strategy.

However, some relevant experts believe that it will be more difficult to skip 5G and directly develop 6G systems. The foundation of 6G development lies in 5G, and the later development needs to have the core technology in the early stage to complete. Therefore, the possibility of success of this overtaking plan in the United States is not very high. In fact, it can be clearly perceived from the number of patent applications.

The development of anything is a gradual process, and qualitative changes require quantitative accumulation. Blindly advancing suddenly, the result of “pulling seedlings to encourage growth” is likely to fail, and only by taking one step at a time can we go more safely.

3. Russia

There is also Russia that wants to achieve “curve overtaking”. According to a report on the website of the Russian “Kommersant” on July 27, 2022, Russia decided to bypass the 5G stage and directly develop the 6G network. By 2025, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and the Institute of Radio Manufacturing Sciences under the Ministry of Digital Development may receive more than 30 billion rubles (about 3.42 billion yuan) for research on new 6G communications standard.

Image source: Russian “Kommersant”

According to reports, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister instructed the Ministry of Digital Development, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Ministry of Finance to provide additional funds for research and development in the field of 6G communications before August 1, 2022. The Deputy Prime Minister’s Office confirmed to Kommersant that the order had been issued. .

The work will include device development from prototype to production, component foundational issues as well as the development of a regulatory framework and electromagnetic safety studies for new networks.

As part of the project, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and the Institute of Radio Manufacturing Sciences proposed revising the roadmap for the development of fifth-generation mobile communication networks. The document was formulated by Rostec and was approved in November 2020, with an implementation cost of 208.15 billion rubles (approximately 23.729 billion yuan).

It is reported that Russia’s 5G commercial operation is still in its infancy. According to the report, the operator VimpelCom said that before talking about 6G, it needs to pay attention to the gradual expansion of the LTE frequency band, and is skeptical about the prospects of 6G. /NET2030) development is in its initial stages and expectations for the standard are currently being outlined.”

Kommersant’s interlocutors in the telecommunications industry believe that it is necessary to conduct research on the direction of 6G, but before allocating large budgets for this, it is necessary to determine with which countries and equipment manufacturers Russia will coordinate on technical standards and frequencies.

Before the suspension of supply, most of Russia’s chips were imported, and local chip companies focused on design and focused on mature manufacturing processes. Relying on TSMC’s foundry, coupled with the purchase of necessary chip equipment from US companies such as Intel and Qualcomm, Russia can maintain a stable supply and demand state in the semiconductor industry. After the accident, Russia was not discouraged and decided to develop its own lithography machine.

The lithography machine Russia plans to develop is a maskless X-ray lithography machine, which has a shorter wavelength than ASML’s EUV lithography machine. The shortest wavelength can reach 0.01nm, which is more extreme than the 13.5nm wavelength of EUV lithography machine.

The shorter the wavelength and the higher the resolution, the higher the density of transistors that can be photolithographically achieved, resulting in better chip performance. In theory, the Russian X-ray lithography machine removes the mask, so the chip production steps are simpler than the EUV lithography machine.

The research and development of X-ray lithography machine in Russia is not a small challenge, and the Russian Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology, the most powerful microelectronics in Russia, is responsible for the project. But when it will be successfully developed, it is temporarily impossible to give a definite answer. But for the new goal of 6G, Russia has a clear time plan. That is, 6G will be developed in 2025.

Based on the current development of Russia in communications, Russia will face more difficulties in developing 6G in 2025. In fact, judging from the reserve of science and engineering talents, Russia ranks among the top in the world rankings. As early as the 1980s, Russia carried out research on the theory of X-ray lithography. But then, Russia paid limited attention to the semiconductor industry, so there was not much breakthrough in this regard. The development of communication technology requires the mastery of the core technology of the previous generation to be possible. Therefore, it is extremely challenging to directly develop 6G bypassing 5G.

4. Japan

In the 6G market, Japan is also intensively carrying out related work. On April 8, 2020, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan announced the strategic goal of establishing 6G main technologies in the country in 2025, hoping to realize the practical application of 6G in 2030.

According to the news on December 16, 2020, Japan is aiming at the 6G goal and adopting a number of measures to promote 6G research and development. In Japan’s additional budget, it even allocates funds to promote 6G research and development, trying to increase efforts to promote 6G research and development, and seize market opportunities in the next track.

According to the Nikkei Chinese website, under the leadership of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, universities and NTT, Japan has established the “Beyond 5G Promotion Alliance”. Compared with 5G essential patents, the goal of doubling by the 6G era is proposed. An official from Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that “to a certain extent, tactics that focus on areas of strength have become important.”

Its representative is NTT. The company’s “IOWN” proposed not to use electrons on semiconductors, etc., but instead to optical transmission, thereby reducing energy consumption. Domestic and foreign companies such as Intel and Sony Group in the United States agree that if it is successfully realized, it may become a game changer.

Not only this kind of communication that only uses light, but NTT especially has advantages in the field of “MIMO” and antenna control called “beam forming”. It can control base stations and form radio waves to communicate with each other to reduce signal congestion.

To drive self-driving cars without delay, in the 6G era, base stations will be complexly linked, and technologies such as ultra-low-latency control based on edge computing are attracting attention.

For the next-generation communication standard “6G” that will be popularized around 2030, Japan’s NTT will expand cooperation to 100 companies in Japan and abroad in order to promote its own optical transmission technology as an international standard. We will build a communication platform that reduces power consumption to 1/100, and take the lead in the 6G field where international standards have not yet been finalized in various countries. NTT should take the failure of the mobile network service “i-mode” to expand overseas markets as a lesson, and start to share technology and experience with Japanese, American, European, and Asian companies from the research and development stage, and start cooperation.

The IOWN platform changes the transmission from semiconductors to networks from electrons to photons. Strive to achieve 100 times the high-speed and large-capacity transmission of existing communications, and reduce power consumption to 1/100 to promote decarbonization. Use photons between semiconductors by 2025, and use photons for transmission within semiconductors by 2030. As early as the second half of the 2020s, mobile communications such as cell phone base stations will also use photonic technology.

President Sawada positioned IOWN as a “game-changing” technology, and will recruit cooperative companies from Japan, the United States, Europe and Asia. Technical standards were discussed at the international organization “IOWN Global Forum” established in January 2020, and as of the end of October this year, 79 companies and organizations participated. By 2030, strive to have 100 IT, communications, and cross-border companies and organizations from Japan and abroad participate.

Each company will share its own technology and experience. Intel USA assists in semiconductor research using photonics technology. Sony Group will combine its own sensing technology with IOWN’s ultra-low-latency communication technology to jointly research new entertainment experiences.Communications equipment suppliers such as NEC and Ericsson are expected to cooperate to promote the commercialization of the “universal white box (WhiteBox)” that becomes a communication equipment and artificial intelligence (AI) engine.

From this point of view, in terms of 6G, Japan focuses on formulating new standards in order to occupy the right to speak in the 6G field, and then expand cooperation to form cooperation with other countries. From the research and development stage, we will share technology and experience with companies in Japan, America, Europe, and Asia, and start cooperation.

In fact, in addition to the countries mentioned above, many other countries are also preparing for the development of 6G. In 2018, Finland began research on 6G-related technologies. Ericsson has released a white paper on 6G with a university in Finland. Both Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics established 6G research centers in 2019. On July 14, 2020, Samsung Electronics released the white paper “Next Generation Hyper-Connected Experience”. In August 2021, South Korea’s LG Electronics recently successfully conducted a wireless signal transmission test in the 6G terahertz frequency band, and the test distance exceeded 100 meters.

From the competition for the 6G market in various countries, we can clearly feel how critical technology is to the development of a country. However, the development of science and technology is changing rapidly, and each of us is confused and looking forward to what will happen in the future.