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6G does not exist, yet it is already here! – XI

Service Oriented Architecture -SOA- may be seen a s pre-cursor of the future Network Service-based evolution. Image credit: Federica Paganelli, Barbara Martini

7. Services that may require/benefit from 6G

Every time a new wireless system is envisioned the hype on what that new system can mean starts. Amazing new services are foreseen, a good portion of them just inherited from the hype on the previous system and a few that are new and that most likely will not materialise once the new system, eventually, is deployed.

As previously mentioned, one of the reason is that the service providers, those that are creating and deploying services, are targeting the market that can be reached with the available infrastructures, not the niches that a new system can support (initially). Another reason is that if a service is indeed “amazing” (which means has a market, customers willing to pay for it) you can bet that companies will try their best to deploy it on the existing infrastructures, using tricks and shortcuts.

We have seen in the last fifteen years that a leap in service quality and variety is not related to a new wireless system, rather to the appearance and availability of new devices. 

Hence, rather then revelling on the huge bandwidth that 6G might provide and its extremely low latency (in the part where local peer-to -peer communications is involved) we should better take a look at the expected evolution of devices, like smartphones, wearable, vehicles, IoTs, a kind of exercise that requires a crystals ball, and goes along with the same accuracy you can expect from a crystal ball.

There is also another reason to take this device centric approach and that is the topsy-turvy creation, deployment and growth of 6G, as I see it from today’s standpoint.

We have been living in a service network-based evolution, that is services have been evolving in synch with the network availability (and evolution). In ten years time, also because of the 6G paradigm and architecture, we are likely to shift in a network service-based evolution, that is the network evolution will be driven (better “created”) by the new services.

Once we accept the idea that a terminal becomes a network node and that its behaviour/functionality will be software based it becomes obvious that new “terminals” will create “new” networks and the overall network creation and evolution will be a consequence of their aggregation,

It will no longer be a quest to find, given some (increased) network performances, a service that can become the silver bullet to exploit them and stimulate market adoption, rather a variety of services, locally taking advantage of technology evolution will be creating local -expanding networks- that eventually will reshape the overall network.

Services will require new devices to support and make them desirable (user friendly, seamless pervading daily processes, in life and in business) and affordable (the device cost/price will have to match market possibility).

Because of this it makes much more sense to look at devices roadmap than to network roadmap. It also means that the big players will come from the industry of “ manufacturing tools” and from consumer electronics, not from network equipment manufacturers nor from Telecom Operators.

Is this totally new, an evolution coming out of the blue? Not at all! We have been talking about Software Defined Network, and even Service Defined Network for quite a while. The idea was to use the softwarization of current networks (NFV, SDN) to carve a network slice that would fit at best a given service requirement. 

The difference is that here we were using an existing network, in the future the very creation of a service (along with the deployment of devices supporting it) will create the network (lead to the evolution of the network).

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.