1.SoftBank's Challenge Towards Realizing 6G

At SoftBank's Research Institute of Advanced Technology, we are actively engaged in the research and development of various technologies to realize 6G, the next-generation mobile communication system.

6G is expected to bring further advancements beyond the characteristics of 5G, such as ultra-high speed, ultra-low latency, and massive simultaneous connections. Additionally, it aims to improve reliability and energy efficiency, among other technological innovations. SoftBank is committed to expanding the applications of wireless technology beyond traditional communication purposes. We are evolving network architectures to enable AI functionality, enhancing fault tolerance to ensure secure use across various industries, and striving towards a carbon-free society.

In July 2021, we announced our efforts towards realizing 6G under the initiative "12 Challenges for 6G."

12 Challenges for 6G | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives
Building the Digital Society Infrastructure with 6G | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives

Mar 22,2024

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Building the Digital Society Infrastructure with 6G

#6G, #Others

2. Developments in 6G Specifications

For mobile communication systems, the ITU-R (International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector) is responsible for the development and study, and it establishes standards under IMT (International Mobile Telecommunications).

5G has been standardized under the framework of IMT-2020 and consists of three main technological components: eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband), URLLC (Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications), and mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communications). These components enable high-speed, high-capacity communication, ultra-reliable low-latency communication, and massive connectivity, respectively. In the vision for IMT-2030 towards 6G, these technological elements are expected to further evolve and integrate with new technologies, enabling even more advanced communications.

IMT-2030 Framework | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a key mobile communication technology standardization body, develops specific technical specifications based on the fundamental requirements set by ITU-R. These specifications are determined in units called Releases. Currently, discussions are underway for Release 19, which will outline the standards for 5G-Advanced. Concurrently, preliminary discussions for 6G are taking place, with detailed specifications expected to be developed in Release 21. The commercial deployment of 6G is anticipated around 2030.

3GPP Standardization Timeline | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives
New 6G Logo Approved! : Which frequency will be used in 6G? | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives

Mar 22,2024

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New 6G Logo Approved! : Which frequency will be used in 6G?

#6G, #FSOC/Terahertz

3. SoftBank's Efforts in 6G Technology Development

At SoftBank’s Research Institute of Advanced Technology, we are advancing the development of various technologies expected to be standardized in different areas of 6G.

■ Integrated Sensing and Communication

In 5G, foundational technology for IoT has advanced, allowing numerous devices to connect simultaneously. However, 6G will go even further by integrating communication and sensing technologies. This integration will enable real-time collection and transmission of environmental data, facilitating the realization of smart cities and advanced monitoring systems.

At the Research Institute of Advanced Technology, we are working towards this integration by conducting experiments such as using 5G base stations to acquire location information of people and vehicles through sensing.

New Ways to Use Radio Waves in the 6G Era - Integrated Sensing and Communication - | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives

2024.03.22

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New Ways to Use Radio Waves in the 6G Era - Integrated Sensing and Communication -

#6G, #FSOC/Terahertz

◾️ Integrated AI and Communication

In 6G, the integration of communication and AI will advance significantly. This will enable AI to optimize communication networks in real-time, resulting in more efficient and reliable communications. SoftBank’s AI-RAN initiative is a new architecture that integrates AI applications and Radio Access Networks (RAN) on the same computing platform. One of the concepts of AI-RAN, AI for RAN, aims to enhance the functionality and quality of RAN using AI. In particular, it targets optimization through AI in the signal processing part of the wireless network, known as Layer 1, which has had fewer optimization approaches until now. The technologies and ideas for realizing AI for RAN can be applied to both 5G and 6G, playing an important role in the standardization and implementation of 6G.

◾️ Ubiquitous Connectivity

In 6G, technologies like NTN (Non-Terrestrial Network) are gaining attention for enabling ubiquitous connectivity, independent of location and time.

At the Research Institute of Advanced Technology, we are working on developing HAPS (High Altitude Platform Station) technology, a stratospheric communication platform, to create a society where people and things are connected globally.

Toward the Early Realization of Flying Base Stations “HAPS” | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives

Feb 22, 2023

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Toward the Early Realization of Flying Base Stations “HAPS” Communication -

#HAPS

◾️ Efforts Towards Advancing High-Speed, High-Capacity Communication, Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication, and Massive Connectivity

Terahertz Communication

We are advancing the research and development of communication technology using the terahertz frequency band (0.1–10THz), known for its extremely high frequencies. Terahertz waves are expected to significantly enhance data transfer speeds.

At the Research Institute of Advanced Technology, we are developing antennas for terahertz communication and conducting outdoor trials to move towards practical implementation.

Our Initiatives to Utilize the Terahertz Band in Mobile Communications | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives

2023.02.22

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Our Initiatives to Utilize the Terahertz Band in Mobile Communications

#6G, #FSOC/Terahertz

Successful Construction of Outdoor Areas Using "Terahertz" Frequency for the 6G Era ~ Realizing Areas for Future Vehicle Communications ~ | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives

Jun 4,2024

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Successful Construction of Outdoor Areas Using "Terahertz" Frequency for the 6G Era ~ Realizing Areas for Future Vehicle Communications ~

#6G, #FSOC/Terahertz, #Connected

Optical Wireless Communication

We are also researching and developing communication technologies that use "light," which operates at even higher frequencies than terahertz waves. Optical wireless communication offers high directivity and is free from radio interference, enabling ultra-fast, high-capacity communication with enhanced security. This technology holds promise for a wide range of applications.

Free Space Optical Communication(FSOC) Research and Development | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives

Jun 15, 2023

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Free Space Optical Communication(FSOC) Research and Development

#6G, #FSOC/Terahertz

Security

With the advent of quantum computers, there is a growing concern that traditional encryption methods may be decrypted due to the dramatically increased computational power.

At the Research Institute of Advanced Technology, we are researching and developing quantum-resistant encryption technologies to prepare for these future risks. Our goal is to achieve encryption communication that is theoretically impossible to eavesdrop on.

SoftBank's PQC: Preparing for the Arrival of Quantum Computers | SoftBank's 6G Initiatives

Apr 12,2024

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SoftBank's PQC: Preparing for the Arrival of Quantum Computers

#6G, #Quantum Technology

At the Research Institute of Advanced Technology, we are engaged in many additional technical fields beyond the initiatives mentioned above. We will continue to accelerate our research and development efforts towards realizing 6G, aiming to enrich and secure people's lives while contributing to the overall progress of society.

Research Areas