When does Idea 5G
While all the signs are currently pointing to 5G, the Fraunhofer laboratories are already working on the next generation of mobile communications: 6G should take the performance of mobile communications a step further in terms of peak throughput and user data rate, reliability and latency as well as energy efficiency and localization accuracy. Overall, this increase in performance with 6G will go hand in hand with a much higher connection density.
“For the future 6G mobile radio, new technologies are required, which the Fraunhofer project team is developing in the lead project 6G SENTINEL. With these 6G basic technologies, we would like to contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of Germany as a location in a key digitalization market, "says Prof. Dr. Albert Heuberger, managing director of Fraunhofer IIS.
Fraunhofer IIS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications HHI, the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF and the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM are involved in the lead project.
Terahertz technology and flexible networks
6G will be based on the consistent further development of previous mobile radio technologies and at the same time open up completely new possibilities. There is particular potential in the use of terahertz frequencies from 100 GHz, because they allow extremely high data throughputs, which are necessary for applications such as virtual reality, digital twins, teleoperation and autonomous driving.
In order to make mobile communications in the THz range a reality, the researchers in the 6G SENTINEL project are working on the development of radio channel models and link-level simulators for the frequency range between 100 and 300 GHz. Building on this, the prototype of a highly integrated terahertz transmission module is to be created which, together with a transmission method that is also to be developed, is suitable for demonstrating mobile THz connections.
The second important pillar of the project are software solutions that enable the networks to be flexibly designed according to the application and the current operating situation. The basis for this is a modular and software-based core network, which is expanded to include secure and trustworthy components for dynamic control, enables the integration of new types of access and backhaul networks and supports AI-based network automation. The aim is to develop and demonstrate an adaptable architecture for heterogeneous 6G networks in which, in addition to THz technologies, satellites and flying platforms in particular play a role.
Localization and 6G architecture as overarching cross-sectional issues
»The two technology pillars terahertz communication and flexible networks are the focus of the lead project 6G SENTINEL. In addition, we would like to work out a 6G network architecture and develop technologies for even more precise localization in 6G networks, ”explains Bernhard Niemann, project manager at 6G SENTINEL.
The exact localization will therefore be of overarching importance in 6G, since new localization approaches can use information over the radio channel more and more consistently in order to improve the accuracy of the position determination. In 6G SENTINEL, concepts and algorithms are tested, functionally integrated into the core network and further developed into fully integrated localization solutions for the THz area.
The project consortium plans to combine the technologies developed in the project in a coherent architecture that can serve as the basis for the flexible construction of a comprehensive 6G system. In order to achieve higher transmission rates, this will be characterized overall by the smallest cells, the use of THz frequencies and the use of antennas with integrated radiation shaping systems (massive MIMO). At the same time, extensive coverage with mobile internet is required, which is why 6G SENTINEL pays special attention to the development of solutions for the integration of satellites and other non-terrestrial base stations.
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