Na­tion plans to ex­tend lead over US in 6G race: ex­perts

Global Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Li Qiaoyi and Zhang Hui

By al­ready launch­ing re­search into sixth-gen­er­a­tion (6G) tech­nol­ogy, China can be ex­pected to ex­tend the coun­try’s healthy lead over the US in global 5G into a fu­ture world that is in­creas­ingly re­liant on tech­nol­ogy, Chi­nese ex­perts said on Thurs­day.

The an­nounce­ment by the Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy (MOST) Wednes­day that China was kick­ing off re­search into 6G came a few days af­ter the roll­out of 5G com­mer­cial ser­vices in China, the world’s largest in­ter­net mar­ket.

Chi­nese net users re­sponded to the min­istry an­nounce­ment by ex­press­ing mar­vel at the na­tion’s ca­pa­bil­ity and re­solve to set its eyes on nextgen­er­a­tion tech­nol­ogy.

The min­istry, to­gether with sev­eral gov­ern­ment depart­ments, the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sci­ences and the Na­tional Nat­u­ral Sci­ence Foun­da­tion

of China, held a meet­ing in Bei­jing on Sun­day to start re­search on 6G tech­nol­ogy, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment posted on its web­site.

Two teams were an­nounced: one con­sist­ing of rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment bod­ies and the other made up of 37 ex­perts from uni­ver­si­ties, sci­en­tific re­search in­sti­tutes and com­pa­nies.

The an­nounce­ment in­vited a global spot­light on China’s tech­no­log­i­cal achieve­ments.

Ready for a head start

“6G will cer­tainly be a ma­jor up­grade in terms of func­tions and per­for­mances in­clud­ing mo­bile broad­band, la­tency, re­li­a­bil­ity, in­tel­li­gence, power con­sump­tion and cov­er­age, al­though 6G is still a con­cept so far with­out spe­cific def­i­ni­tion and stan­dards,” Tang Xiongyan, chief sci­en­tist of the net­work tech­nol­ogy re­search in­sti­tute at China Uni­com, one of the coun­try’s three tele­com car­ri­ers, told the Global Times on Thurs­day.

The sys­tem of net­works car­ried by elec­tro­mag­netic waves is near­ing its tech­ni­cal lim­its, leav­ing the in­dus­try to con­tem­plate what for­mat will en­able the next gen­er­a­tion of mo­bile net­work tech­nol­ogy.

Xiang Li­gang, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Bei­jing-based In­for­ma­tion Con­sump­tion Al­liance, pre­dicted that re­searchers may ex­plore ter­a­hertz waves or in­te­grate space, sea and ground func­tions into an in­tel­li­gent net­work.

China’s 6G drive, al­beit not tar­get­ing the US, will in­evitably add anx­i­ety for a coun­try al­ready haunted by China’s ris­ing tech­no­log­i­cal prow­ess, Chi­nese in­dus­try in­sid­ers said. Europe, the US, Japan and South Korea are prob­a­bly all about to kick off 6G re­search, Tang noted. “When one gen­er­a­tion of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy is put into com­mer­cial use, it is time to carry out re­search on tech­nolo­gies and stan­dards for the next gen­er­a­tion,” he said. “This is rou­tine.”

In a fresh move in late Oc­to­ber, Sony, NTT and In­tel an­nounced they were form­ing a 6G part­ner­ship.

Global co­op­er­a­tion

Like 5G, 6G re­search will hinge on open in­no­va­tion and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, Tang be­lieved.

But Chi­nese mar­ket watch­ers say the US fan­cies it­self a pi­o­neer in global pro­tec­tion­ism, mean­ing any such global push would not be so easy and would most likely have to be spear­headed by China. Tang pre­dicted the US would re­in­force its tech­no­log­i­cal ad­van­tage in mi­cro­elec­tron­ics and soft­ware, and hope to change the tra­di­tional rules of the tele­com in­dus­try and gain a new edge through sub­ver­sive tech­nol­ogy, ecosys­tem and busi­ness in­no­va­tion.

The US will surely be alert to Chi­nese 6G, said Xiang. How­ever, US sanc­tions and tech­nol­ogy blocks will not de­ter China and will help Chi­nese tech­nol­ogy de­velop more rapidly, he said, cit­ing China’s 5G tech­nol­ogy as a pre­cur­sor.

Chi­nese an­a­lysts all agreed that China was likely to over­take the US in 6G de­vel­op­ment.

They pointed out the US ap­proach is driven by com­pa­nies and so can­not at­tract the best man­power and equip­ment from all sec­tors.

As 6G blurs in­ter­na­tional bor­ders, the US tech­no­log­i­cal ap­proach of splen­did iso­la­tion will soon lag be­hind, ex­perts said.

China and the EU with their more open at­ti­tudes to­ward mar­kets and tech­nol­ogy will have broader co­op­er­a­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties, Fu Liang, a Bei­jing-based tele­com in­dus­try ex­pert told the Global Times on Thurs­day.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies such as Huawei have been co­op­er­at­ing with the EU to deepen 5G de­vel­op­ment, with broader mar­ket ac­cess for both sides, he noted.

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