TelcoNews New Zealand - Telecommunications news for ICT decision-makers
Story image
Fielding 6G challenges: the key role of RIS technology
Wed, 7th Feb 2024

Network operators worldwide are being called upon to resolve a number of technological challenges to fully maximise the potential of the 6G cellular network launch. Juniper Research predicts 6G, due to launch globally in 2029, will surpass 290 million connections in its first two years. However, this growth could be hindered by the issue of network interference from high-frequency spectrum use.

Touted as a major enabling technology for 6G, the high-frequency spectrum is capable of providing throughput speeds exponentially higher than current 5G networks, a staggering 100 times greater, in fact. This presents a new territory for cellular technologies, as frequency bands of this magnitude have never been used in tandem with these technologies. Minimising network interference, therefore, becomes a priority for operators, failing which could lead to potentially unreliable 6G networks.

Importantly, Juniper's report presses operators to look towards investment in Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS) as a remedial step. An emerging technology capable of mitigating the adverse effects of interference caused by large obstacles such as buildings, RIS could be instrumental in providing 6G services thereon. The technology operates by actively reflecting and refracting 6G mobile signals, presenting an effective solution for the unimpeded flow of data packets around physical obstacles.

The research study urges that following the concise etching of 6G standards in 2025, RIS technology should take centre stage for development. However, the caveat lies in the considerable geographical areas of certain 6G networks that necessitate the utilisation of artificial intelligence to monitor and orchestrate real-time modifications for the RIS configuration consistently. This could be a key factor in amplifying the benefits of the technology.

Alex Webb, a research author, emphasises the critical role of Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS) in the initial stages of 6G coverage. He asserts that the early deployment of 6G networks will prioritise densely populated areas to maximise user accessibility. Webb contends that RIS technology will be instrumental in delivering effective 6G services to both consumer and enterprise clients during the initial years of network operation. This underscores the pivotal importance of RIS in facilitating widespread and reliable connectivity in the evolving landscape of next-generation telecommunications.

Alex Webb said, "Initial 6G coverage will occur in the most densely populated geographical areas to serve as many users as possible. Therefore, RIS technology will be key to providing a valuable 6G service to both consumer and enterprise customers in the first few years of network operation."

To assist operators in this imminent technological shift, Juniper's comprehensive research suite provides an in-depth forecast for 60 countries, offering detailed market analysis and almost 21,000 market statistics over a nine-year period. Analyses and forecasts such as these could play a crucial role in successful 6G integration into global telecommunications.