Just as news emerges that 6G mobile services could arrive as early as 2025 and not between 2028 and 2030 as previously expected, a joint study from InterDigital and Omdia has highlighted what the mobile and video technologies provider and research firm see as the need for a new quality of personal experience (QoPE) framework, and metrics to measure the success of 6G-enabled services and unlock new possibilities for users and operators alike.
In February 2022, InterDigital published findings on an earlier report which set out to outline the key attributes of 6G communications, its foundational and enabling technologies and the potential it will deliver to industries and economies alike.
It also suggested use cases and potential market opportunities based on the massive capacity low latency and extreme high throughput that 6G networks could offer, such as the metaverse, avatar communications, sensor networks and digital twin of things.
The study, Experience the future of 6G: A new direction for telecom, draws on experiments conducted by students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human Computer Interaction Institute, as well as interviews with a variety of potential 6G enterprise customers, service providers and other industry stakeholders.
The report looks at new use cases and suggests that future 6G services will be capable of engaging a diversity of human senses, including touch and spatial awareness, that will allow people to have fully immersive cyber-physical experiences. It sees 6G as offering a unique opportunity to establish a telecommunication system that can guarantee exceptional and personalised user experiences, which will enable industry to develop services that directly address end-users’ needs, while also meeting technical performance specifications.
However, justifying the price tag of sensory-enriched services poses unique challenges for telecom operators and the industry at large unless the opportunity is fully understood.
In addition, the study argues that current industry jargon is inadequate to illustrate to both service providers and consumers the potential for services that merge physical, digital and virtual contexts, or the added value proposition sensory-enhanced services may provide. This new paradigm could likely be important for future immersive applications and enable service offerings for existing over-the-top experiences.
Yet while it said 6G offers an exciting opportunity to embrace a more comprehensive, user-centric service delivery path, providing a direct focus on quality of experience really is the one true measure of service performance, and the report stressed that the emergence of new technologies and increasing consumer expectations have made it crucial to move to a more user-centric framework for providing and delivering services.
“6G shifts the focus of value creation from connectivity to delivering brilliant experiences,” said Omdia chief analyst and report author Camille Mendler. “However, if you can’t measure something, you can’t monetise it.”
Donald Butts Sr, director of technology strategy at InterDigital, said: “What happens when improvements in latency and bandwidth are good enough, is that providing a high-quality experience to users will become even more crucial and require a shift in focus from the typical areas of concern for the telecom industry today.”
The study also identifies cognitive impact, physical safety and enhanced privacy as important service-affecting issues for human customers and areas that could attract future regulatory oversight.
It recommends dedicated cross-domain dialogue to explore applicable metrics from other industries, potential testing methods and operational approaches to support the commercialisation of future 6G services.
As the metaverse and other immersive applications mature, there will be a need for a QoPE to provide users with the best possible experience.
It concludes that sensory-driven metrics will become critical as networks start to shift from people-to-device networks to people-to-people networks, and those who focus on delivering a better experience will find new service opportunities in the future.