Category Archives: Beyond 5G

Episode 18: Ever-Present Intelligent 6G Communications (with Magnus Frodigh)

We have now released the 18th episode of the podcast Wireless Future, which is the last one in the first season (we are taking a summer break). The episode has the following abstract:

Many individuals are speculating about 6G, but in this episode, you will hear the joint vision of 700+ researchers at Ericsson. Erik G. Larsson and Emil Björnson are visited by Magnus Frodigh, Vice-President and Head of Ericsson Research. His team has recently published the white paper “Ever-present intelligent communication: A research outlook towards 6G”. The conversation covers emerging applications, new requirements, and research challenges that might define the 6G era. How can we achieve limitless connectivity? Which frequency bands will become important? What is a network compute fabric? What should students learn to take part in the 6G development? These are just some of the questions that are answered.

You can watch the video podcast on YouTube:

You can listen to the audio-only podcast at the following places:

It is All About Multiplexing

Every few months, there is a new press release about how a mobile network operator has collaborated with a network vendor to set a new 5G data speed record. There is no doubt that carrier aggregation between the mid-band and mmWave band can deliver more than 5 Gbps. However, it is less clear what we would actually need such high speeds for. The majority of the data traffic in current networks is consumed by video streaming. Even if you stream a 4k resolution video, the codec doesn’t need more than 25 Mbps! Hence, 5G allows you to download an entire motion picture in a matter of seconds, but that goes against the main principle of video streaming, namely that the video is downloaded at the same pace as it is watched to alleviate the need for intermediate storage (apart from buffering). So what is the point of these high speeds? That is what I will explain in this blog post.

The mobile data traffic is growing by 25-50% per year, but the reason is not that we require higher data rates when using our devices. Instead, the main reason is that we are using our devices more frequently, thus the cellular networks must be evolved to manage the increasing accumulated data rate demand of the active devices.

In other words, our networks must be capable of multiplexing all the devices that want to be active simultaneously in peak hours. As the traffic grows, more devices can be multiplexed per km2 by either deploying more base stations that each can serve a certain number of devices, using more spectrum that can be divided between the devices, or using Massive MIMO technology for spatial multiplexing by beamforming.

The preferred multiplexing solution depends on the deployment cost and various local practicalities (e.g., the shape of the propagation environment and user distribution). For example, the main purpose of the new mmWave spectrum is not to continuously deliver 5 Gbps to a single user, but to share that traffic capacity between the many users in hotspots. If each user requires 25 Mbps, then 200 users can share a 5 Gbps capacity. So far, there are few deployments of that kind since Massive MIMO in the 3.5 GHz band has been deployed in the first 5G networks to deliver multi-gigabit accumulated data rates.

I believe that spatial multiplexing will continue to be the preferred solution in future network generations, while mmWave spectrum will mainly be utilized as a WiFi replacement in hotspots with many users and high service requirements. I am skeptical towards the claims that future networks must operate at higher carrier frequencies (e.g., THz bands); we don’t need more spectrum, we need better multiplexing capabilities and that can be achieved in other ways than taking a wide bandwidth and share it between the users. In the following video, I elaborate more on these things:

Episode 17: Energy-Efficient Communications

We have now released the 17th episode of the podcast Wireless Future, with the following abstract:

The wireless data traffic grows by 50% per year which implies that the energy consumption in the network equipment is also growing steadily. This raises both environmental and economic concerns. In this episode, Erik G. Larsson and Emil Björnson discuss how the wireless infrastructure can be made more energy-efficient. The conversation covers the basic data traffic characteristics and definition of energy efficiency, as well as what can be done when designing future network infrastructure, planning deployments, and developing efficient algorithms. To learn more, they recommend the IEEE 5G and Beyond Technology Roadmap article “Energy Efficiency” and also “Deploying Dense Networks for Maximal Energy Efficiency: Small Cells Meet Massive MIMO”.

You can watch the video podcast on YouTube:

You can listen to the audio-only podcast at the following places:

IEEE Globecom Workshop on Wireless Communications for Distributed Intelligence

The 2021 IEEE GLOBECOM workshop on “Wireless Communications for Distributed Intelligence” will be held in Madrid, Spain, in December 2021. This workshop aims at investigating and re-defining the roles of wireless communications for decentralized Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, including distributed sensing, information processing, automatic control, learning and inference.

We invite submissions of original works on the related topics, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • Network architecture and protocol design for AI-enabled 6G
  • Federated learning (FL) in wireless networks
  • Multi-agent reinforcement learning in wireless networks
  • Communication efficiency in distributed machine learning (ML)
  • Energy efficiency in distributed ML
  • Cross-layer (PHY, MAC, network layer) design for distributed ML
  • Wireless resource allocation for distributed ML
  • Signal processing for distributed ML
  • Over-the-air (OTA) computation for FL
  • Emerging PHY technologies for OTA FL
  • Privacy and security issues of distributed ML
  • Adversary-resilient distributed sensing, learning, and inference
  • Fault tolerance in distributed stochastic gradient descent (DSGD) systems
  • Fault tolerance in multi-agent systems
  • Fundamental limits of distributed ML with imperfect communication

Episode 16: 6G and the Physical Layer (with Angel Lozano)

We have now released the 16th episode of the podcast Wireless Future, with the following abstract:

The research community’s hype around 5G has quickly shifted to hyping the next big thing: 6G. This raises many questions: Did 5G become as revolutionary as previously claimed? Which physical-layer aspects remain to be improved in 6G? To discuss these things, Erik G. Larsson and Emil Björnson are visited by Professor Angel Lozano, author of the seminal papers “What will 5G be?” and “Is the PHY layer dead?”. The conversation covers the practical and physical limits in communications, the role of machine learning, the relation between academia and industry, and whether we have got lost in asymptotic analysis. Please visit Angel’s website.

You can watch the video podcast on YouTube:

You can listen to the audio-only podcast at the following places:

Episode 15: Wireless for Machine Learning (with Carlo Fischione)

We have now released the 15th episode of the podcast Wireless Future, with the following abstract:

Machine learning builds on the collection and processing of data. Since the data often are collected by mobile phones or internet-of-things devices, they must be transferred wirelessly to enable machine learning. In this episode, Emil Björnson and Erik G. Larsson are visited by Carlo Fischione, a Professor at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The conversation circles around distributed machine learning and how the wireless technology can evolve to support learning applications via network slicing, information-aware communication, and over-the-air computation. To learn more, they recommend the article “Wireless for Machine Learning”. Please visit Carlo’s website and the Machine Learning for Communications ETI website.

You can watch the video podcast on YouTube:

You can listen to the audio-only podcast at the following places:

Episode 14: Q/A on MIMO, NOMA, and THz Communications

We have now released the 14th episode of the podcast Wireless Future, with the following abstract:

In this episode, Emil Björnson and Erik G. Larsson answer questions from the listeners on the topics of distributed MIMO, THz communications, and non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA). Some examples are: Is cell-free massive MIMO really a game-changer? What would be its first use case? Can visible light communications be used to reach 1 terabit/s? Will Massive MIMO have a role to play in THz communications? What kind of synchronization and power constraints appear in NOMA systems? Please continue asking questions and we might answer them in later episodes!

You can watch the video podcast on YouTube:

You can listen to the audio-only podcast at the following places: