LEGAL/POLICY

ITU Advances The Development Of IMT-2030 For 6G Mobile Technologies

ITU Secretary-General
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By Cyber Era NG Special Correspondent

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published the framework for the development of standards and radio interface technologies for the sixth generation of International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT) systems, popularly referred to as 6G.

The details of the 6G framework are contained in Recommendation ITU-R M.2160 on the “IMT-2030 Framework” approved by the ITU Radiocommunication Assembly (RA-23) at its recent meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) will now focus on defining technical requirements, the submission process, and the evaluation criteria for potential 6G radio interface technologies.

“Mobile communications are central to our efforts to ensure that everyone is meaningfully connected,” said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “By agreeing on a way forward on 6G, ITU Member States have taken an important step toward ensuring that technical progress is synonymous with affordability, security, and resilience — supporting sustainable development and digital transformation everywhere.”

The ITU-R Recommendation represents significant progress in the development and implementation of globally accepted standards for mobile systems using 6G. All the previous mobile telecommunication generations – analogue cellular (1G), digital cellular (2G), IMT ‑ 2000 (3G), IMT‑ Advanced (4G), and IMT ‑ 2020 (5G) – were also standardized through ITU.

“Terrestrial wireless systems to be developed under IMT-2030 are expected to drive the next wave of innovative radiocommunication systems, promote digital equity and advance universal connectivity,” said Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau Mario Maniewicz. “The publication of the Recommendation on future 6G mobile technologies is a testament to ITU’s longstanding multi-stakeholder approach which ensures the development of globally accepted technical and regulatory solutions.”

For the next phase of 6G development, companies and industry associations will submit proposals for the IMT-2030 Radio Interface Technology (RIT) for ITU-R consideration in early 2027. These submissions will then be evaluated against the agreed minimum requirements prepared by ITU’s expert group on IMT systems (ITU-R Working Party 5D), with the prospect of getting a final set of 6G technology standards approved by 2030.

The IMT-2030 Framework Recommendation identifies 15 capabilities for 6G technology. Nine of those capabilities are derived from existing 5G systems.

IMT-2030 is also expected to help address the need for increased environmental, social and economic sustainability, and also support the goals of the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Expected usage scenarios for 6G include:                                                                                         

  • Immersive communication to provide a rich and interactive video experience for users.
  • Hyper-reliable and low-latency communication to enable the scale-up of intelligent industrial applications including telemedicine and management of energy and power grids.
  • Enhanced ubiquitous connectivity, especially in rural, remote and sparsely populated areas with the aim of bridging the digital divide.
  • Massive communication to include expanded use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications in smart cities, intelligent transport systems and sectors such as health, agriculture, energy and environmental monitoring.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and communications to support AI-powered applications.
  • Integrated multi-dimensional sensing to improve assisted navigation, and high-precision positioning including object and presence detection, localization, imaging​ and mapping.

ITU’s Radiocommunication Assembly, held between 13 and 17 November, also agreed on “IMT-2030” as the technical reference for the sixth generation of International Mobile Telecommunications and updated the principles (Resolution ITU-R 65) for future development of IMT for 2030 and beyond.

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