Supportive 5G infrastructure policies are essential for universal 6G: Evidence from an open-source techno-economic simulation model using remote sensing

02/16/2021
by   Edward J. Oughton, et al.
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Work has now begun on the sixth generation of cellular technologies (`6G`) and cost-efficient global broadband coverage is already becoming a key pillar. Indeed, we are still far from providing universal and affordable broadband connectivity, despite this being a key part of the Sustainable Development Goals (Target 9.c). Currently, both Mobile Network Operators and governments still lack independent analysis of the strategies that can help achieve this target with the cellular technologies available (4G and 5G). Therefore, this paper provides quantitative evidence which demonstrates how current 5G policy affects universal broadband, as well as drawing conclusions over how 4G and 5G decisions made now affect future evolution to 6G. Using a method based on an open-source techno-economic codebase, combining remote sensing with least-cost network algorithms, performance analytics are provided for different 4G and 5G universal broadband strategies. As an example, the assessment approach is applied to India, the world`s second-largest mobile market and a country with notoriously high spectrum prices. The results demonstrate the trade-offs between technological decisions. This includes demonstrating how important current infrastructure policy is, particularly given fiber backhaul will be essential for delivering 6G quality of service. We find that by eliminating the spectrum licensing costs, full 5G population coverage can viably be achieved using fiber backhaul. In conclusion, supportive 5G infrastructure policies are essential in providing a superior foundation for evolution to 6G.

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