While the focus of the comms industry is clearly on the roll-out of next-generation 5G networks, the industry is also increasingly casting an eye towards what lies beyond with 6G. In the latest move in this sector, ETSI, the trade group supporting the development, ratification and testing of globally applicable standards for ICT systems and services, has kicked off the Industry Specification Group on Terahertz (ISG THz) communications.
ETSI believes that, to a certain extent, THz communication has similarities and shared challenges with millimetre wave technology. Due to the need for line-of-sight or at least obstructed line-of-sight to make use of one reflection or scattering process, reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RIS) are seen as an enabler for THz communications.
This, says ETSI, will provide ample opportunities for collaboration and joint undertakings with two other groups in ETSI, one working on millimetre wave (ISG mWT) and the other on RIS (ISG RIS).
The trade association says several European and international initiatives promoting 6G research and development activities anticipate that THz communications will be included in the next generation of cellular networks. The ETSI group will support the future 3GPP standardisation work. This includes Horizon Europe, described as the European Union’s leading research and innovation funding initiative for research projects based on the sixth generation of telecoms technology.
The newly launched ETSI ISG THz group already has 31 participating companies, and aims to define the target scenarios and the concrete frequency bands of interest on THz communications. Of major interest to the members of ISG THz will be the analysis of specific radio propagation aspects for THz communications, such as: molecular absorption; the effect of micro-mobility; specific considerations for scattering, reflections and diffractions; and considerations for near-field propagation.
As a starting point, the group will analyse data from the numerous research efforts providing early measurement campaigns that has been published in relevant literature.
It will initially focus on two categories of use cases. The first will include mobile applications with high data rate requirements, such as virtual and augmented reality, applications for in-flight and in-train entertainment, and vehicular and satellite communications. The second includes applications requiring both communication and sensing functionalities, such as holographic telepresence, and interactive and cooperative robotics.
To complement this work and fill the gap of missing data, it is expected that the members of ISG THz will perform channel measurements for the selected scenarios and frequency bands. This, says ETSI, will enable the group to develop channel models for the selected scenarios and frequency bands and finally establish a baseline for THz technology fundamentals, including antenna assumptions, simulation assumptions and deployment strategies.
“ISG THz provides an opportunity for ETSI members to coordinate their pre-standards research efforts on THz technology across various European collaborative projects, extended with relevant global initiatives – a move towards paving the way for future standardisation of the technology,” said ISG THz chair Thomas Kürner.
The group held its kick-off meeting and decided on work priorities for the candidate technology for 6G on 8 December.