The companies have implemented both technologies as proofs of concept at Nokia Bell Labs in Stuttgart, Germany
Finnish vendor Nokia, together with Japanese companies NTT Docomo and NTT, announced that they have achieved two key technological milestones on the path to future 6G systems.
Nokia said that the first tech milestone is the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into the radio air interface, effectively giving 6G radios the ability to learn. The second is the utilization of new sub-terahertz (sub-THz) spectrum to boost network capacity, the vendor added.
The involved companies noted that these technologies could pave the way for new immersive metaverse and extended reality (XR) experiences and a new generation of mobile applications. The companies have implemented both technologies as proofs of concept at Nokia Bell Labs in Stuttgart, Germany.
By pairing an AI-based learned waveform in a transmitter with a deep-learning receiver, Nokia Bell Labs, Docomo and NTT researchers were able to design and implement a learning air interface that transmits data efficiently under many different scenarios. This AI/ML-based implementation significantly reduces signaling overhead, producing up to a 30% improvement in throughput, the partners said.
In addition, the AI-native air interface will grant 6G networks the flexibility to adapt to the type of connection demanded by an application, device or user. For instance, a network in a factory can be optimized for industrial sensors at one moment and then reconfigured for robotic systems or video surveillance.
The partners also highlighted that the sub-THz bands have never been designated for cellular use because of their propagation characteristics, but new techniques such as beamforming could open up those frequencies to future 6G networks. These higher frequencies are well suited for high-accuracy radio sensing, which will likely be another key feature of 6G. In their proof-of-concept, researchers from these three companies were able to demonstrate a 25 Gbps connection on a single 256QAM stream over a carrier frequency of 144 GHz using beamforming.
Nokia, Docomo and NTT had initially launched their 6G collaboration in June, 2022, with the aim of jointly defining and developing key technologies for future 6G systems.
Commercial 6G services are expected to launch in 2030. 6G technologies have not yet been standardized.
Takehiro Nakamura, chief technology architect at NTT Docomo, said: “Through the collaboration, we continue to establish innovative 6G technologies and contribute to the global standardization and commercialization of 6G.”
“For the 6G era, we are using communication as a starting point. Networks will think, sense and act, and they will become the nexus point that bridges our digital and physical realities. Docomo and NTT share our 6G vision, and together we’re doing the fundamental research that will breath life into that future,” said Peter Vetter, president of Bell Labs Core Research at Nokia.
In June last year, NTT DoCoMo, Fujitsu and NEC announced joint 6G trials, with indoor trials scheduled for this year, followed by outdoor trials in March 2023.
Specifically, Docomo and Fujitsu aim to establish 6G wireless technologies for sub-THz communication using the 100 GHz and 300 GHz bands. A critical technology here will be distributed MIMO, which refers to multiple sub-terahertz wave antennas that are dispersed to simultaneously emit radio waves from multiple directions to a receiving terminal.