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6G for the hyperconnected future

17 Apr 2023

A point of view on the technology advancements in 6G platforms and ecosystems.

Life in 2030

In 2030, the world will look dramatically different due to technological advancements in connectivity and associated technologies. The metaverse is likely to become fundamental to everyday life. 8K virtual reality (VR) headsets and brain-interface devices will probably become mainstream. There could be widespread proliferation of level-5 autonomous vehicles and hyperloop tunnels could enable faster international travel. Hypersonic airliners could enter service. “Smart Grid” technology will become widespread in the developed world. 3D-printed organs, blood vessels, and nanorobotics may improve our quality of life. Artificial brain implants could restore lost memories.  Quantum computing may become cheap enough to be mainstream. The first version of the quantum internet is likely to emerge, with terabyte internet speeds becoming commonplace. The entire ocean floor will probably be mapped, making deep ocean mining operations feasible. Hypersonic missiles will be a plausible addition to most major militaries, as will be AI-enabled warfare. The High-Definition Space Telescope (HDST) could be operational. The first permanent lunar base could be established.

Making this new hyper-connected world a reality will require a massive leap forward; one that that provides 1,000 times faster connectivity than what is possible today, with data transfer speed in terabytes per second and extremely low latency allowing response time in a few microseconds.

Although 5G networks are slowly maturing, and their full potential is still to be unleashed, the limits of 5G do not allow infrastructures and networks to simultaneously guarantee a speed of terabytes/second with extremely low latency. This calls for thinking beyond 5G.

Mobile networks: past, present, and future

Wireless cellular communication networks have seen the rise of a so-called new-generation technology approximately every ten years and each consecutive generation has resulted from disruptive technological advancement and societal change (Figure 1). If this trend continues, 6G may be introduced in the early 2030s, or at least that’s when most smartphone manufacturers will release 6G-capable mobiles, and 6G trials will be in full swing.

Figure 1: Mobile networks: past, present, and future

It is too early to provide a detailed list of features that 6G will bring, but there are emerging themes from research that are shaping new technologies like new spectrum, visible light communication, AI native radio, cell free networks, intelligent surfaces, holograph communication, non-terrestrial networks (satellites, High Altitude Platforms (HAPs), drones etc.) etc. In addition, the lessons learned from 5G network deployments and user ecosystems will play a big part in defining 6G.

What really is 6G and how it is shaping up?

6G is expected to provide hyper-connectivity that will lessen the divide between humanity and the inanimate world of machines and computers.

Considering the general trend of successive generations of communication systems introducing new services with more stringent requirements, it is reasonable to expect that 6G will build on the strengths of 5G and introduce new technologies with requirements that far exceed the capabilities of 5G.

Regulatory bodies are considering allowing 6G networks to use higher frequencies than 5G networks. Since spectral efficiency, bandwidth, and network densification are the three main ingredients needed to achieve higher data rates, this is likely to provide substantially higher capacity and much lower latency. Terahertz (THz) bands from 100GHz to 10THz are currently being considered. This will allow the delivery of a peak data rate of 1,000 gigabits/second with over-the-air latency lower than 100 microseconds. The current intent is to make 6G, 50 times faster than 5G, 10,000 times more reliable, and able to support ten times more devices per square kilometer while offering wider coverage.

Though these are early days of 6G, a rough sketch of what 6G performance will look like and its comparison with 5G is suggested in the initial studies. For example, peak data rate in 5G is 200 Gb/s, whereas that in 6G is estimated to be 1 Tb/s, maximum bandwidth is 1 GHz in 5G vs 100 GHz in 6G, latency is 1 millisecond in 5G vs 100 microseconds in 6G, reliability is 1-10-5 in 5G vs 1-10-9 in 6G, peak mobility supported is 500 km/h in 5G vs 1000 km/h in 6G, energy latency is not specified in 5G but in 6G it is estimated to be 1 Tb/J. Detailed comparison is available in [1].

This research into 6G may seem premature, but the geopolitical race for leadership on this next big thing in telecommunications technology is already gearing up. Countries across the globe are spending huge sums on 6G research. Various consortia are forming, and research projects are starting to address the new standards and vertical use cases, such as vehicle connectivity and private industrial networks. The key 6G initiatives across the globe are shown below (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Global 6G initiatives

6G use cases and the technologies driving them

Expanding upon the foundation of 5G, 6G will enable a much wider set of futuristic use cases that, when deployed on a massive scale, will transform the way we live and work in remarkable ways.

Telecom operators, technology providers, and academia are joining forces under various alliances and consortia and deliberating which use cases will emerge in the next decade and be adopted by 6G. NGMN [2], Next G Alliance [3], one6G [4] are just some of the leading alliances that have recently published 6G use cases.

Figure 3 shows the categorization of various 6G use cases that enhance human-to-human, human-to-machine, machine-to-machine, and machine-to-human communication.

Figure 3: Emerging 6G use cases

Key technical areas

These use cases are driving the technology trends and steering the requirements for future generational change. The key technical areas that will accelerate 6G introduction include technological enhancements, architectural improvements, and accelerating adoption (Figure 4).

Figure 4: 6G technical areas
Top technology areas include:
  1. New Spectrum: The 6G era will necessitate a 20X increase in network capacity. 6G will meet this challenge through new spectrum in range (7 to 24 GHz) including sub-THz range (larger than 100 GHz) and ultra-massive MIMO.
  2. AI Native Networks: AI will become a native ingredient in 6G networks so that the network can become fully autonomous and hide the increased network complexity from users. A dynamic AI/ML-defined native air interface will be key for future networks. These interfaces could give radios the ability to learn from one another and from their environments.
  3. Sensing and positioning: With near-THz frequencies, the potential for very accurate sensing based on radar-like technology arises. 6G networks will be able to sense their surroundings, allowing us to generate highly realized digital versions of the physical world. This digital awareness would turn the network into our sixth sense. It will particularly improve performance in indoor communications scenarios by acquiring and sending better information about the indoor space, range, barriers, and positioning to the network. Please refer to this for more information.
  4. Security, trust, and privacy: 6G will provide advanced network security, trustworthiness, and privacy protections to unlock the full value potential of 6G, with quantum safe cryptography and distributed ledger technologies, such as blockchain.
  5. Ubiquitous connectivity: 6G will provide reliable networking connectivity, focusing on extreme performance and coverage when and where needed through seamless integration of non-terrestrial networks such as satellites, drones, and HAPs with the terrestrial network. Please refer to this for more information.
  6. Intelligent Reflecting Surface (IRS): IRS is a thin panel integrated with many independently controllable passive reflection elements– that can improve the security, spectrum, energy efficiency, and converge of 6G networks by adjusting the amplitude and phase shifts of reflection elements in IRS for achieving fine-grained reflect beamforming.

Capgemini’s 6G initiative

Capgemini has a rich history of leading mobile technologies and possesses end-to-end capabilities in RAN, edge, and core. In addition, Capgemini is a leading player in Open RAN, something that is likely to become more widespread as technology deployment continues.

Capgemini has a head start in 6G research, particularly in the areas of mesh networks, AI for network automation, sustainability, and quantum cryptography. Our first 6G research paper on “xURLLC in 6G with meshed RAN,” was published in the “ITU Journal on Future and Evolving Technologies (ITU J-FET) – Volume 3, Issue 3, December 2022[9]. The objective of this research is to define a new network architecture that will make the 6G networks simpler, more flexible, and able to support extremely low latency communication.

Academic collaborations with IISc Bangalore to identify rouge base stations using abnormally high power and with Princeton University to allow federated learning towards the goal of a user-centric cell-free 6G are also underway.

Capgemini is also an active member of O-RAN alliance and participates in its next Generation Research Group (nGRG) task force to determine how O-RAN will evolve to support 6G and beyond.


Today, we are in quite early stages of the rollout of 5G, and we still have a long way to go with the maturing of this technology. However, this is the ideal time to plan for the future and ask what’s next. Emerging use cases for beyond 5G and 6G seem to be taking a firm footing and suggest that 5G may only open the door to such use cases. New and more stringent requirements will continue to push the evolution of wireless well beyond 5G and 6G. Capgemini is at the forefront of 6G research, with strong partnership with academia and industry.

TelcoInsights is a series of posts about the latest trends and opportunities in the telecommunications industry – powered by a community of global industry experts and thought leaders.

  1. White Paper on Broadband Connectivity in 6G
  2. NGMN Identifies 6G Use Cases
  3. Next G Alliance – 6G Applications and Use Cases
  4. One6G – 6G Vertical Use Cases
  5. What’s Inside Counts: How 6G Can Enable Ubiquitous, Reliable Indoor Location Services
  6. The Future of 6G is Up in the Air — Literally
  7. Non-Terrestrial Networks in 5G & Beyond: A Survey
  8. Faster, Smarter, Greener: Intelligent Reflecting Surface for 6G Communications
  9. xURLLC in 6G with meshed

Meet the authors

Subhankar Pal

Senior Director and Global Innovation leader for Intelligent Networks program in Capgemini Engineering
Subhankar has 22+ years of experience in telecommunication industry. His interest areas include advanced network automation, optimization and sustainability using cloud native principles and machine learning for 5G and beyond networks. In Capgemini he drives technology product incubation, product strategy and roadmap development, consulting & service offer definition for telecommunication and related markets.

Sandip Sarkar

5G and 6G strategy lead for Capgemini Engineering
Dr. Sandip Sarkar holds a B. Tech from IIT Kanpur. and a PhD from Princeton University. With over 30 years of experience, Dr Sarkar holds over 100 patents and over 30 published papers in the field of telecommunication. His research interests include wireless communications, error-control coding, information theory and associated signal processing systems. Dr. Sarkar was the author of multiple wireless standards and is a senior member of IEEE.