LIVE FROM 6G SYMPOSIUM, LONDON: Adrian Scrase, CTO at ETSI (pictured), described the potential fragmentation of 6G standards as a major elephant in the room being exacerbated by current geopolitical divisions, while cautioning it took the industry 30 years to conform to a single mobile standard for the technology’s predecessor.

Scrase noted “there is an awful lot of tension” in the world right now, with certain countries, regions and companies the focus of attention, and if any of those “felt like they’re going to be excluded from the game, they’re likely to break away and do their own thing”.

Reflecting on 5G, he said it was “touch and go” on whether the industry would agree on a global standard, and there are indeed a few rocks in the road on a process that took around three decades.

With 6G slated widely for a commercial launch in 2030, Scrase said potential global fragmentation really needed focus, conceding a single standard could be hard to achieve.

Political layer
Aside from geopolitical issues, he also noted not every government potentially bought into the economic value of a global single standard.

The industry, therefore must look beyond the “engineering layer of 6G” and focus more attention on addressing the political layer.

Highlighting the UK as an example, Scrase said he had heard senior politicians state there needed to be a standard developed for the country alone, and it had to be made clear that such an approach could result in the loss of numerous economic benefits.

“I think it’s incumbent on all of us then to see what we can do to get this message across above the engineering layer and try to get the economists to be really aware of the damage that could be done if we saw a fragmented standard,” he said.