Finland working in international cooperation towards future technologies

International cooperation on the development of 6G mobile technology has taken a significant step forward this summer. In June, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) adopted a draft new recommendation on the 6G (IMT-2030) framework. The 6G opinion of the EU’s Radio Spectrum Policy Group also underwent a public consultation in the summer. The framework is expected to be finally adopted in September, and the 6G opinion should be adopted in October.

Heidi Himmanen, Chief Adviser, Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom

The work of the radio sector of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R), a UN body, on 6G is essential for ongoing research and development operations worldwide. Finland has emphasised the importance of this specification work and its timing. Major investments are being made in 6G research and development in Finland, Europe and around the world. If this work had been delayed, it would have led to fragmentation in research and standardisation work and uncertainty as policymakers begin to commit to 6G.

The June meeting was memorable for the contributions of speakers from developing countries who said that 6G should also meet their expectations. 6G is not just about new opportunities for those of us with the best mobile networks in the world – it is for everyone, worldwide.

Europeans must be active to be at the forefront of development

The EU’s Radio Spectrum Policy Group is a high-level advisory group that assists the European Commission in developing its radio spectrum policy. Finland’s representative in the RSPG is the Ministry of Transport and Communications, supported by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom. Finland has had a strong vantage point over the 6G work among the sub-group co-chairs. The Group’s first 6G opinion is intended to investigate the development of 6G, its possible implications on spectrum needs and guidance on the  rollout of future wireless broadband networks.

In international spectrum work, Finland has called for the 6.425–7.125 GHz band to be allocated to 5G/6G. Finland considers it generally important for new bands to be studied for 6G in the future.

Traficom promotes 6G in many areas

Traficom and the Ministry of Transport and Communications are participating in 6G spectrum work to ensure the effective use of the spectrum and the future development of broadband networks and services. We are also studying the need for regulatory development, such as flexibility in the implementation of networks. The demand for tailored network services will continue to increase, and needs may also be temporary and local.

The promotion of fibre also supports 6G, and cybersecurity must be built into 6G. We issue radio licenses for testing to enable 6G research. In addition, we participate actively in international work to enable new spectrum for 5G/6G.

Satellite connections will also be an essential part of future 6G networks, enabling connectivity between land, sea, air and space. Traficom is participating to this work in bodies such as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Cooperation around research, development and innovation is crucial and one of Finland’s strengths. Cooperation should also extend to other sectors of society, such as transport and logistics, health care and industry. Traficom’s 5G Momentum ecosystem has brought together actors and openly shared information about various development opportunities since 2018.

Finland is a pioneer in 6G development

The world’s first 6G research program began in Finland five years ago, and we are very committed to bringing our knowledge and technology to the world. Our strengths are expertise and cooperation. Finnish research also emphasises sustainable development.

One of our success factors is that we have the world’s best mobile networks with the best coverage. Finland was perhaps the first country in the world to successfully build broadband services for public safety and critical communicationrelying on commercial networks. This required a new approach from legislators and service providers. Similarly, many of our security of supply functions depend on our reliable commercial networks. Plans have already been made to implement the train control system on the mobile network.

6G will provide new opportunities for technology exports and the construction of  modern communication infrastructure. Let’s build the future together!

Usage scenarios and overarching aspects of IMT-2030

Figure 1. The 6G (IMT-2030) usage scenarios expand on the 5G usage scenarios (triangle, centre, IMT-020), adding three new ones: Integrated AI and Communication, Integrated Sensing and Communication, and Ubiquitous Connectivity. The overarching aspects of 6G are sustainability, security/privacy/resilience, ubiquitous intelligence and connecting the unconnected.

Text: Heidi Himmanen, Chief adviser, D.Sc.(Tech)
Digital Connections, Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom