The Convergence of the Physical and Digital Worlds: vivo’s Vision for a 6G World

vivo has established itself as a brand known for its creative and exclusive innovations, breaking records in the communication sector. vivo has consistently ensured that its new ventures are aligned with its Benfen philosophy, which aims at creating value for society. Following this legacy, vivo has also been a trailblazer in advancing 5G technology and application to provide consumers with a seamless mobile user experience.

Moreover, thinking beyond the present, vivo has already begun its Research & Development efforts for 6G technology, releasing its third 6G white paper for the same in July 2022. To gain an in-depth understanding of 6G technology, its advancement for the future, and vivo’s role in these developments, Ms. Rizwana Omer interviewed Mr. Rakesh Tamrakar, 5G Standard Expert, at vivo. 

  • What is 6G and how exactly is it different from 5G?

The introduction of 5G was a stepping stone in the evolution of the digital world, providing increased connectivity, higher bandwidths, and lower latency. It also propelled the expansion of mobile communications to industrial applications. As innovators, we are always in pursuit of creating something more efficient that would make life seamless. Hence, naturally, the next logical step was to pursue innovations in 6G and understand its potential to unlock a connection between the physical and digital worlds.  On the most basic level, as compared to 5G, 6G mobile data services will ensure improved capacity, data rate, latency, reliability, and flexibility, fulfilling the varied needs of individuals. On a more advanced level, efforts geared towards 6G services are aimed at providing instant connectivity everywhere, universal digitalization, and extensive intelligence, thereby encouraging the sustainable development of society.

  • 6G envisions the deployment of non-terrestrial networks in 3D through air/spaceborne platforms like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, High Altitude Platforms, and satellites. Is that true, how exactly will that work?

A 6G world will ensure the convergence of the physical and digital worlds. In an effort to achieve this goal, the development of non-terrestrial networks (NTN’s) is necessary; it will aid the development of universal and high-capacity connectivity. The idea is to complement terrestrial infrastructures with non-terrestrial ones. This will provide on-demand coverage in crowded and disconnected areas. Considering the many benefits of such a technology, its development will expand the possibilities of application. However, investigations in this field are still in the early stages and a number of questions need to be answered to formulate a complete network design for the same.

  • What progress vivo has made so far in 6G technology?

The vivo Communications Research Institute was established in 2016 to advance research on 5G technology and its standardization. From here, it has taken the next step to begin an in-depth analysis and evaluation of 6G technology and network services applicability, business models for the same, and the system architecture required for its execution. Keeping in line with this goal, vivo has recently released the third 6G white paper, ‘Building a Freely Connected Physical and Digital Integrated World: 6G Services, Capabilities and Enabling Technologies’ on 27th July 2022.  It is based on two earlier works released in 2020, including ‘Digital Life 2030+’, and ‘6G Vision, Requirements and Challenges. We have progressed from establishing vivo’s vision for 6G, outlining the possibilities of its varied applications to exploring a complete 6G framework and respective enabling technologies. Overall, these efforts are geared towards one goal – convergence of the physical and digital worlds.

  • The world of technology is continuously evolving, what a 6G world might look like and what technologies need to be developed to get there?

The move towards 6G is yet another endeavor to push the world of communication beyond the walls of basic functionality; the idea is to dream big, to democratize access to digital luxuries and advanced services such as immersive extended reality (XR), holographic telepresence, and multi-sensory interconnection.  Another transformative application of 6G will be its ability to collect public information about industries, apart from its other basic information services like wireless sensing, and enhanced network information provision.  That is the vision of a 6G world.  To support 6G services, new network functions need to be developed that would help achieve the integration of sensing and communication. As 6G will converge mobile network and computing, cross-domain data interaction, and AI network, it will require a brand-new architecture design.

  • What is vivo’s vision for 6G?  How exactly will 6G enable the convergence of the digital and physical worlds and what role does vivo plan to play?

vivo’s latest 6G white paper release posits that 6G will enhance communication speed, improve information accessibility, and integrate computing services and sensing into a single, interconnected system. vivo imagines 6G to be a web connecting humans to humans, machines to machines, and finally, humans to machines, materializing a new digital age. By compounding 6G services with Capabilities and Enabling Technologies AI (Artificial Intelligence), this digital age will ensure an intertwined physical and digital world. It will seamlessly connect industries, transportation, workspace and homes. In terms of vivo’s role, vivo is a brand committed to the creation and distribution of intelligent services, and its goal is to bridge the gap between the human and the digital world. Hence, vivo will be at the forefront, pioneering this road to a linked and sustainable world. The vivo Communications Research Institute is at the core of these efforts, conducting the research to outline 6G applicability, experimenting, verifying and standardizing potential 6G technologies.

  • Only a limited number of countries have launched 5G but even they haven’t reaped the full potential of 5G so far.  Don’t you think a lot more needs to be done at 5G front before moving to 6G?

The research and development of 6G technology is moving at a dedicated and consistent pace but is still in the early stages. With 5G, the goal is not theoretical research, but rather ensuring its effective implementation. The benefits of 5G cannot be ensured overnight, and the same can be said for the development of 6G technology. The two efforts are mutually compatible and should advance in tandem with one another. By diving into research for 6G, we are not abandoning 5G efforts, but ensuring that they have somewhere to reach in the future. As innovators, our goal is to make the future, and thus prepare for it in advance.

  • What are the major challenges in attaining the technological maturity of 5G?

Despite significant steps taken in developing 5G technology, there are still several challenges that obstruct complete implementation. A number of factors need to be worked upon, like spectrum allocation and costs. 5G requires a high amount of spectrum, and to ensure this, costs need to be on the lower side. Another critical aspect to ensure 5G distribution is adequate infrastructure like towers, antenna to facilitate inter-connectivity. These are some of the basic requirements necessary for ensuring a widespread coverage of the 5G network. Besides these, the technical know-how and willingness to innovate are a must.

  • What are some of vivo’s most notable contributions to the mobile industry in connectivity in terms of 5G?

vivo has been a leader in the development of 5G technologies, establishing a designated Research & Development center for 5G technology and standardization in 2016 ‘vivo Communications Research Institute’.  This investment not only rocketed vivo’s 5G efforts but also provided the perfect platform to kickstart research into 6G technologies. As of October 2020, vivo has applied for more than 2,000 5G patents and submitted more than 4,000 5G proposals to the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) organization. vivo has provided its users with a range of 5G mobile phones, with the promise of a harmonious 5G experience. It has successfully developed 19 phones with 5G support across varied price points to ensure equitable access to superior technology, and integrate the use of 5G into the everyday lives of consumers. vivo’s mission has been to create value for society, and by pioneering 5G efforts in countries like Sri Lanka, it has affirmed its responsibility towards the same.

  • Pakistan is not anywhere near the launch of 5G technology in the country. In your opinion where are we lagging and what needs to be done?

Pakistan has undertaken several initiatives to prepare the ground for the launch of 5G in the country. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has developed a policy framework for the same with the goal of launching 5G by December 2022 or April 2023. As noted by the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications (MoITT), 5G will be launched in a phased manner in five major cities of Pakistan – Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta. A spectrum advisory committee has also been formed for the same. In order to accelerate 5G integration in Pakistan, certain obstacles need to be overcome such as, a low return on investment, low discretionary income, coverage area, energy availability, and affordable 5G smartphones. However, Pakistan is a huge market with high potential for financial growth and lively urban centers, all of which are conducive for a 5G advance.

  • What are vivo’s future plans for Pakistan?

vivo has been making a dedicated effort at integrating the smartphone market of Pakistan into its network. In order to ensure a smooth and holistic convergence, we have established several local production bases to provide global technology to local consumers. During the lockdown as well, vivo introduced online services to ensure a safe consumer experience. Since its introduction in Pakistan, the brand has successfully erected an extensive offline network, with 9200+ retail stores and 18 exclusive service centers. The launch of vivo’s flagship V and X series has also made its way into Pakistan, proving vivo’s commitment to advancing the technological network in Pakistan. vivo plans to integrate into Pakistan with more vigor, to go beyond mere local assimilation and act as the bridge with the fast-advancing technological world.

Check out? vivo Topped China’s Smartphone Market in Q2 2022

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Rizwana Khan

Dreamer by nature, Journalist by trade.

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