Unified 3D communication network
6G-TakeOff: the vision of a unified 3D communication network
EANT GmbH joins the research project “Unified 3D Communication Networks for 6G (6G-TakeOff),” funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, commencing on September 1st, 2022. In collaboration with more than 20 esteemed industry and research partners, including Deutsche Telekom AG, Rohde & Schwarz, IMST GmbH, TU Kaiserslautern, and the University of Bremen, EANT GmbH actively engages in pioneering research on the upcoming generation of mobile communication technology, 6G.
The project’s primary goal is to explore the capabilities of 3D networks, encompassing satellites, drones, and stratospheric gliders, in delivering high-speed communication through the 6G standard across extensive regions. Research objectives encompass expanding network coverage, minimizing latency, and enhancing data rates. While these aspects are under consideration during the ongoing 5G rollout, further technical refinements remain viable. The most significant innovation and central theme of 6G-TakeOff entail the integration of terrestrial (TN) and non-terrestrial networks (NTN). This integration empowers devices to connect to conventional cell towers or establish a 6G link with satellites, drones, or stratospheric gliders, contingent on availability.
Leveraging mmWave frequencies also facilitates a substantial boost in data rates within a confined area through 6G. Although the 5G standard already encompasses frequencies offering these possibilities, 6G is set to greatly expand them. This expansion ultimately results in a notable reduction in latency, enabling real-time communication for applications. This has far-reaching benefits, catering not only to individual users with access to new possibilities in Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) but also to industries, IoT (Internet of Things), and novel applications of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
EANT will contribute its expertise in developing reflector antennas and tracking flying objects, with a particular focus on advancing the backhaul links within the project. These links must efficiently transmit established baseband signals, such as LTE or WiFi, directly to the flying nodes, enabling them to function as airborne base stations. This endeavor involves researching algorithms and techniques for managing, synchronizing, and localizing numerous nodes. Additionally, various components for high-frequency signal processing will undergo design and evaluation.
Upon project culmination, research outcomes will undergo demonstration and assessment within two testbeds, in collaboration with fellow project partners. These achieved results will have a direct impact on shaping the 3GPP specification for the 6G standard. Furthermore, working in tandem with partners, the project will explore various usage scenarios and foster the development of product concepts.
This funding initiative is aligned with the High-Tech Strategy 2025, referencing the BMBF announcement “6G Industrial Projects for the Research of Holistic Systems and Subtechnologies for the Mobile Communications of the 6th Generation.”
This groundbreaking unified 3D communication network will exhibit the following innovative attributes:
- Organic Network Behaviour: The network will empower network nodes to dynamically join or exit without necessitating a permanent connection to a ground control station.
- Security Mechanisms: Robust security mechanisms will be in place to authenticate newly added network nodes, even in the absence of a permanent connection to a ground control station.
- The network will possess the capacity to dynamically shift network functionalities, such as radio access and core network, adapting information flows according to prevailing quality-of-service requirements.
- Connectivity Management: An automatic and autonomous connectivity management system will be implemented to monitor connection availability between adjacent network nodes. It will select optimal routes for traffic flow based on resource consumption, energy utilization, and cost efficiency.
- Unified Access: A “unified access” mechanism will be introduced, automatically selecting the best available network access for end-users to meet their communication needs optimally.
- Reconfigurable Hardware/Microelectronics: The communication payloads of flying network nodes will employ reconfigurable hardware and microelectronics to support the dynamic relocation of network functionalities.
- High-Gain Antenna Systems: Both ground-based end devices and flying network nodes will utilize high-gain antenna systems to minimize signal losses over extended distances between network nodes.