Advancing the Technologies of the 6G Future: The Next G Alliance Technology Working Group

6G technology is expected to usher in the next wave of digital economic growth, as well as drive far-reaching societal shifts in sustainability, digital equality, trust, and quality of life. To help turn this potential into reality, ATIS’ Next G Alliance (NGA) Technology Working Group (TWG) is identifying and coordinating high impact 6G research in component technologies, radio technologies, AI/ML, network architecture and topology evolution, OA&M and service enablement, as well as security/trustworthiness.

Since the Working Group’s inception, there has been overwhelming participation from the private sector, academia, and government officials. Thus far, the Working Group’s accomplishments are many, including defining the specific technologies needed to fulfill the vision set forth in the NGA’s National 6G Roadmap — and to advance North American leadership in the 6G future.

Bridging Academic and Commercial Knowledge

To bridge the insights of forward-looking academic research with practical 6G commercialization knowledge, the TWG established the Distinguished Speaker series. In this forum, academic visionaries and industry experts have in-depth exchanges over a wide range of topics relevant to the technology aspects of the 6G future. These include “Joint Communications and Sensing: Measurement and Modeling for Next G” as well as “Active Learning for Communications and Sensing.”

Publications Mapping the 6G Technology Future

The TWG published numerous technology reports to provide guidance for the federal government and private sector to invest in the most relevant areas for the 6G future. The initial TWG effort surveyed the overall technological landscape that had the potential to contribute to 6G. The 6G Technologies survey identified 44 technologies expected to influence 6G.  Since the NGA’s role is not to design 6G, but to pave the way for future standards work, the report’s focus was on the promises and research challenges in each of these technologies. This survey was followed by reports on the identified issues. One key area that is expected to be different between 5G and 6G is the integration of communications and compute. The TWG published in-depth insights into this topic in its 6G Technologies for Wide Area Cloud Evolution report.  The report investigates merging cloud and mobile architectures and how to handle the demands of more mobile and dynamic computing and data access. 

6G will likely be associated with new radio technologies made possible by advances in processing power and fabrication.  The TWG report 6G Radio Technology Part I: Basic Radio Technologies addresses fundamental advances in radio technology such as new coding schemes or challenges with higher frequency bands.  A second report covering additional radio technologies is in the works.

Finally, managing the complexity of a 6G system will be a major challenge. The TWG 6G Technology Management and Orchestration report explores the issues with managing a flexible and dynamic system.

Looking Toward the Future

As 3GPP standardization of 6G commences in 2025, the TWG will expand its 6G technology identification scope to include facilitation of early 6G technology proof-of-concept in North America. In the upcoming months, the TWG will publish a critical report on component technologies in sync with the goals of the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act, which addresses development of semiconductor infrastructure onshore. In addition, the TWG and other NGA working groups plan to scope U.S. 6G research centers that will define the unique North American 6G applications and requirements.

About the Authors

Tingfang Ji

Vice President of Engineering, Wireless R&D at Qualcomm

Tingfang Ji joined Qualcomm in 2003 and is currently a Vice President of engineering in Wireless R&D. From 2003 to 2014, he made instrumental technical contributions toward the development of LTE and LTE-Advanced technology and served as a vice chairman of the radio working group (RAN4) of 3GPP. Since 2014 he has been responsible for the flagship Qualcomm 5G/6G research project, driving Qualcomm's 5G NR air interface design/standardization efforts, sub6 GHz multi-vendor pre-commercial 5G NR IODT/trials, experimental macro network developments, and pre-6G research. Since 2022, Tingfang has been chairing the technology working group of Next G Alliance to promote North American 6G technologies. Before joining Qualcomm, Tingfang was a member of the technical staff at Bell Labs. As an inventor, he has more than 600 granted US patents. Tingfang received his Ph.D. in E.E. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2001 and a B.Sc. from Tsinghua University, Beijing.

Stephen Hayes

Vice President of North American Standards at Ericsson

Stephen Hayes is the VP of North American Standards at Ericsson with over 25 years in mobile systems. He boasts 20+ years of experience in both 3GPP and ATIS. Additionally, he has served as a member of the FCC Technological Advisory Council and on the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council. Additionally, Stephen has participated in 3GPP since its inception, chairing TSG CN and TSG SA, serving as Vice-Chair of 3GPP RAN, and acting as the ITU-T Strategic Standardization Chair. In 2021, he received the 3GPP Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sharad Sambhwani

Next Generation Wireless R&D at Apple

Sharad Sambhwani is part of Cellular Systems Engineering leading Next Generation Wireless R&D at Apple Inc. He has extensive experience (28+ years) in design, standardization and implementation of wireless communication systems & mmW sensing applications. Sharad is Apple's delegate to ATIS NGA TWG and has been serving as Vice Chair since June 2023. Prior to joining Apple, Sharad began his career as Member of Technical Staff in the Advanced Technology department at Bell Labs, Holmdel, NJ in 1996. He later had stints at a couple of startups, Algorex (acquired by National Semiconductors) and Quicksilver Technology followed by a 17-year tenure at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. He received his MS and Ph.D. degree in EE from Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY (now NYU) in 1992 and 1997 respectively and a MS in CS (AI/ML) from UIUC in 2020. He is a named inventor on over 200 granted patents and has authored 13 publications.