SK Telecom, Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly research and develop advanced 5G and 6G mobile network technologies.
While 5G has just started deployment in only a handful of countries, the data rates are relatively low compared to the current 4G generation. Additionally, 5G coverage is spotty with cities only partially covered.
Despite this, companies are already looking ahead to the future, which includes further 5G deployment including ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), enhanced multi-input multi-output (MIMO), differentiated 28 GHz and standalone 5G networks.
But this also includes research and experiments into 6G. SK Telecom will conduct 6G joint research and development activities with three network equipment providers in the field. SK along with the other companies involved will then draft technical requirements and new business models for 6G.
“Through strengthened cooperation with Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung Electronics, SK Telecom will be able to secure the world’s best 5G quality and lead the way towards 6G mobile network communications,” said Park Jin-hyo, chief technology officer and head of ICT R&D Center of SK Telecom.
Ericsson said recently that the forecast for 5G has increased after initial deployments, with about 1.9 billion 5G mobile broadband subscriptions expected to be active by 2024. In the next five years, 5G subscriptions will see a significant uptick as network deployments ramp up in 2020, creating massive adoption of 5G subscriptions. Most of these will be customers trading 4G handsets for 5G-compatible devices with many early adopters and younger users in mature markets getting a 5G smartphone, Ericsson said.
So far, only the U.S., the U.K., South Korea, Switzerland and Australia have deployed 5G services. However, Germany recently held an auction for its initial 5G spectrum and China also awarded 5G licenses to four companies, suggesting that the networks in these countries are likely to deploy soon. Vodafone also said it would deploy 5G networks in Spain at some point this year.