DOCOMO and NTT team up with SK Telecom and Rohde & Schwarz for 6G research


The two new partners join existing collaborators Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia, Ericsson, and Keysight Technologies

There is little doubt that 6G is still many years from commercial reality, but interest in the nascent technology is nonetheless growing steadily throughout the telecoms ecosystem.

This week, Japanese telecoms giants NTT DOCOMO and NTT have announced that their pool of 6G research partners is growing, with South Korean operator SK Telecom and electronics testing specialist Rohde & Schwarz stepping into the fold.

The new partners will help collaborate on various 6G trials currently taking place in Japan focussed on exploring potential frequency bands for the new technology. More specifically, SK Telcom will join an existing trial by DOCOMO, NTT, and Nokia aiming to explore the use of AI to “tailor radio interfaces for various propagation environments”.

A press release from Nokia gave further detail, describing the collaboration as focussing on developing a ‘6G AI-native air interface (AI-AI), a critical next-generation technology that could greatly boost network performance while increasing energy efficiency’. This includes created a future proof-of-concept for 6G AI-AI systems, which can then be tested under real-world conditions.

“For Nokia to create a world-class 6G system, it’s critical we get input from the service providers that will one day deploy 6G. SKT, NTT and DOCOMO are among the most innovative service providers in the world, which gives us the perfect partners to design the networks of the future,” explained Peter Vetter, President of Bell Labs Core Research at Nokia.

Given SK Telecom’s ambition of transforming from a telco to an AI company, their interest in this project with Nokia and the Japanese operators is hardly surprising.

Rohde & Schwarz, meanwhile, will use their measurement-system design technology to evaluate wireless-sensing solutions in real-world environments.

DOCOMO and NTT are already conducting various 6G spectrum trials with Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia, Ericsson, and Keysight Technologies, aiming to play a integral role in the development and standardisation of the 6G technology.

Nokia, for example, has already conducted successful beamforming trials in the 140GHz band, with the next steps set to explore more specific applications using sub-terahertz spectrum in indoor environment. Fujitsu, on the other hand, has been trialling distributed MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology in the 100GHz and 300GHz bands.

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