PM Narendra Modi recently unveiled the Bharat 6G Vision Document and launched the 6G research and development test bed by involving the stakeholders in the development of 6G in India, a technology with a 100 times faster speed than 5G. The document provides an all-encompassing approach required for the development of the technology, from sustainability and digital inclusiveness to bringing a revolution in integrating the virtual and physical worlds. The 6G mission aligns with India’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and puts it at the forefront of the global technological hubs.
As technology continues to evolve at an astonishing pace, the world stands on the cusp of yet another technological revolution – the advent of 6G networks. In this pursuit, the Indian government has taken a proactive step by releasing the “Bharat 6G Vision” statement. This visionary document outlines India’s ambitions, strategies, and expectations for the next generation of wireless communication technology. Spanning across various domains, the Bharat 6G Vision document provides an insightful glimpse into how India aims to leverage 6G to transform industries, societies, and the very fabric of communication.
The foundation of the Bharat 6G Vision rests on the principles of Affordability, Sustainability and Ubiquity. This strategic approach guarantees that India assumes its rightful position on the global stage as a prominent provider of cost-effective, cutting-edge telecommunications technologies and solutions that not only cater to local needs but also contribute positively to the international community.
6G technology in India holds the potential to revolutionize communication, connectivity, and various industries by offering a range of advanced features and capabilities. India’s 6G project will be implemented in two phases, the first one from 2023 to 2025 and the second one from 2025 to 2030.
The government has also appointed an apex council to oversee the project and focus on issues such as standardisation, identification of the spectrum for 6G usage, creating an ecosystem for devices and systems, and figuring out finances for research and development.
The task force’s primary focus was on the evolution of India’s telecom networks, with a particular emphasis on the importance of dense optical networks for homes and offices. They also stressed the need for seamless integration between optical and wireless networks, as well as rural GPON network engineering. In addition, the report highlighted the crucial role of AI/ML in this evolution and discussed spectrum usage, potential technologies like reflective surfaces and massive MIMO, the Tactile Internet, Industrial IoT growth, and the integration of non-terrestrial networks.
Regarding innovative solutions, the report anticipated the transformative impact of 6G technology, including ultra-high data rates and AR/VR e-meetings. It underscored India’s potential in developing 6G technologies, emphasising innovation in imaging, presence, location awareness, and computational infrastructure. The report also mentioned expectations for multi-device interfaces, ubiquitous computing, multi-sensory fusion, precision sensing, low-power devices, and standalone networks. It stressed the importance of industry partnerships and government support in achieving these goals.
Spectrum management was another critical aspect discussed by the task force. They emphasised the significance of efficient radio spectrum management for the success of 6G. Objectives included identifying spectrum needs, sharing, promoting efficient technologies, and positioning India as a 6G R&D hub. Recommendations ranged from expanding mid-bands to delicensing key bands and encouraging research in Tera Hz bands. The report proposed spectrum sandboxes, coexistence studies, and capacity building to ensure the efficient utilisation of spectrum resources.
In terms of devices, the report projected that 6G’s evolution would enable hyper-connectivity, intuitive interfaces, universal computing, multi-sensory data fusion, and precise sensing. It expected a wide range of devices, from low-power devices to network components, including active nodes in data paths. Collaboration between academia, industry, and government was deemed essential, with a call for R&D funding to develop silicon IPs, chips, AI processors, and end-to-end systems. The report highlighted the role of strategic components and applications in showcasing 6G capabilities.
Standardisation in the 6G arena was also emphasised, with India’s involvement in standards development being a key highlight. Key technologies such as quantum communication, immersive XR, terahertz communication, AI/ML, and distributed ledgers were identified. The report recommended coordination between industry, academia, and government to set research priorities. It proposed the establishment of an advisory board, funding mechanisms, and institutional setups for standards and funding to ensure India’s leadership in 6G technology.
Lastly, the report addressed the need for significant R&D funding for 6G technology development across various stages, from ideation to commercialization. It suggested the creation of a funding pool of Rs. 10,000 Cr over 10 years for various instruments, along with programs to encourage industry participation, academia clusters, and venture capital support. Administrative structures and oversight mechanisms were outlined to ensure the successful implementation of these initiatives.
Context and Motivation
The Bharat 6G Vision document begins with a contextual backdrop that elucidates the need for 6G networks. It recognizes the exponential growth in data consumption, the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, and the growing significance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). These trends collectively necessitate a communication infrastructure that transcends the capabilities of current networks.
The initiative will establish a research and development platform accessible to startups, researchers, industries, and various users interested in broadband wireless applications within India. This encompasses areas such as e-governance, smart urban development, rural broadband access, and other initiatives aligned with the Digital India campaign, all within the framework of the self-reliant India vision, “Atmanirbhar Bharat.”
The document highlights the intention to leapfrog from 2G to 6G, skipping intermediate generations to ensure India’s position at the forefront of technological innovation. A key focus of the council will be on new technologies such as Terahertz communication, radio interfaces, tactile internet, artificial intelligence for connected intelligence, new encoding methods and waveform chipsets for 6G devices.
Key Pillars of Bharat 6G
The vision statement is built upon five key pillars:
a. Digital Inclusion and Equity: The document emphasises that 6G should be an enabler of digital inclusion, ensuring its benefits reach every corner of the country. It envisions affordable, high-speed connectivity that bridges the digital divide, empowers rural areas, and uplifts marginalised communities.
b. Sovereignty and Security: Recognizing the growing importance of cybersecurity in the digital age, the vision places a strong emphasis on developing indigenous security solutions. The aim is to establish robust mechanisms to safeguard data, privacy, and critical infrastructure against cyber threats.
c. Economic Growth and Innovation: The Bharat 6G Vision aspires to be a catalyst for economic growth by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. It envisions an ecosystem that encourages research and development, resulting in the creation of cutting-edge technologies, patents, and intellectual property.
d. Environmental Sustainability: In an era where environmental concerns are paramount, the document brings out the importance of green technologies. It aims to make 6G networks energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable, aligning with India’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
e. Global Leadership: The vision sets forth an ambitious goal for India to emerge as a global leader in 6G technology. It envisions Indian companies becoming key players in shaping international standards, protocols, and collaborations.
Envisioning the 6G Ecosystem in India
Source: Bharat 6G Vision Statement, Department of Telecommunications, Government of India
Building on 5G, 6G aims for ultra-reliable, low latency, and affordable solutions, enhancing communication and impacting economies and lives globally. This entails advanced network management, integrated wireless sensing and communication, and sustainable initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint. India’s 6G Vision seeks to align research and technological development to implement 6G in a customised manner, promoting hyper-connectivity and advanced user experiences. The document offers a comprehensive outlook on the potential applications of 6G across sectors:
a. Healthcare and Education: Bharat 6G envisages revolutionary changes in telemedicine and remote education. High-definition real-time video conferencing, remote surgeries, and immersive virtual learning experiences could become commonplace.
b. Agriculture and Industry: The vision highlights the role of 6G in transforming agriculture through precision farming and real-time monitoring of crops and livestock. It also envisions smart factories with real-time production optimization and predictive maintenance.
c. Smart Cities and Infrastructure: The document envisions 6G powering smart cities with connected infrastructure, efficient transportation systems, and advanced urban planning. It anticipates the integration of AI and IoT to enhance city living.
d. Entertainment and Gaming: With enhanced connectivity and low latency, 6G could revolutionise entertainment and gaming, offering seamless augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences.
e. Security and Defence: The Bharat 6G Vision also talks about the potential applications in defence, including real-time situational awareness, autonomous drones, and secure communication for defence personnel.
Complexity in Technology: The upcoming 6G technology is anticipated to be much more complicated than the predecessor technologies. This complexity, stemming from a multitude of components and subsystems, may introduce challenges during the developmental and implementation phases of 6G.
Challenges in Infrastructure Deployment: Realising the potential of 6G requires substantial investments in infrastructure development. This could present difficulties related to securing finances, navigating regulatory frameworks, and executing widespread deployment.
Spectrum Allocation Hurdles: The availability of spectrum, a limited resource, holds immense importance for advancing 6G technology. Allocating a sufficient spectrum for 6G might prove to be challenging, especially considering the demands from other emerging technologies vying for spectrum allocation.
Security Concerns: Similar to the introduction of any new technology, 6G is poised to encounter security vulnerabilities. The ultra-fast speeds and massive data volumes transmitted through 6G networks could expose them to cyber threats. Ensuring robust security measures for these networks will play a pivotal role in their success.
Need for Standardization: Establishing standardised protocols for 6G is vital to ensure seamless communication between different networks and devices. However, the process of defining and reaching a consensus on these standards can be lengthy and intricate. Disagreements among stakeholders have the potential to impede the timely rollout of 6G technology.
The “Bharat 6G Vision” statement stands as a testament to India’s aspirations to lead the technological revolution with a forward-looking approach. By addressing various domains and articulating a holistic vision, the document sets the stage for India’s journey towards 6G networks. As the world anticipates the potential of 6G to redefine communication and connectivity, India’s vision signals not only technological progress but also a commitment to inclusive and sustainable development.
Through strategic collaborations, research investments, and a focus on indigenous innovation, India aims to not only adopt 6G but also shape its evolution by becoming a leading global supplier of intellectual property, products and solutions of affordable 6G telecom solutions, securing a prominent position in the global technological landscape.
- Bharat 6G Vision Statement
- Press Information Bureau (PIB)
- Hindustan Times
- Indian Express
Nikita Bhardwaj is a research intern at IMPRI.
Acknowledgement: The author would like to thank Nandu S Nair, Srinitya Kuchimanchi and Harshaa Kawatra for their kind comments and suggestions to improve the article.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organisation.
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