Chinese researchers launch 6G field test network


According to reports, the network has demonstrated a ten-fold improvement in key communication metrics, including capacity, coverage, and efficiency

This week, a team of Chinese researchers from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications have revealed the ‘world’s first’ 6G field test network.

According to Chinese government news agency Xinhua, ‘the experimental network has demonstrated that semantic communication can reach the transmission capabilities of 6G on existing 4G infrastructure’.

The network is reportedly intended to provide the national research community with a more accessible platform for 6G testing, thereby allowing wider participation in 6G research.

Results so far reportedly demonstrate the network delivering a ‘ten-fold improvement to capacity, coverage, and efficiency’, though it does not specify what this improvement is being compared to. Further details on the test network are slim for now, with the data having been presented by the researchers as a seminar in Mandarin earlier this week.

China’s emphasis on taking an early lead in 6G has been plain to see for a number of years now. Only last week Jin Zhuanglong, head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, listed 6G as a technical area of national focus, alongside other fledgling technologies like humanoid robotics, quantum computing, and brain–computer interfaces.

Indeed, state support for 6G research is already significant. Both academia and the private sector have been heavily incentivised, via a variety of subsidies and tax breaks, to develop the technology rapidly. As of last year, the government has also played a key role in the creation of a dedicated working group comprising a number of government departments and 37 universities, research institutes, and enterprises.

The exact amount of funding being allocated to support 6G development, however, remains unclear.

Nonetheless, the national focus on the technology is seemingly bearing fruit. China’s private sector – primarily Huawei – currently dominates the global market when it comes to 6G patents, accounting for roughly 40% of the global total. China also celebrated another 6G ‘world first’ back in May, when China Mobile launched a satellite into Low Earth Orbit designed to “test 6G architecture”.

Whether all this activity is turning into a tangible lead in 6G, however, remains to be seen. The standardisation process for 6G has only just begun, with commercialisation no expected until 2030 according to both 3GPP and the ITU. If China truly does have a lead in 6G research, it will still be a long time before this translates to a commercial advantage on the global stage.

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