Sustainability is deeply woven into the mission of the Next G Alliance (NGA) to establish North American leadership in 6G and beyond. It is one of the six audacious goals of the National 6G Roadmap working group and as such addresses key North American imperatives. It is also one of NGA’s research priorities, meant to confront driving forces, both globally and in North American communities, as they pertain to technological, economical, and increasingly social and environmental needs and demands.
This paper surveys the research and technology directions required to make the vision of a sustainable 6G system a reality. The overarching mandate is to increase energy efficiency and to reduce energy consumption in the pursuit of significantly lower, ideally net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The advocated approach, however, is intrinsically holistic, covering the entire gamut of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector’s environmental impact, including the usage and pollution of air, water, and land through ICT technologies.
The path toward a realizable and sustainable 6G system laid out in this paper tackles the two key challenges to mankind as they relate to climate change, global temperature increase, and biodiversity loss. This path spans the entire life cycle of ICT technologies, from material sourcing and mining, to manufacturing and supply chain, operation and maintenance, and ultimately waste management.
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