Although the deployment of 5G wireless technologies is still underway, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said this week it’s already time for the government to start conceptualizing the landscape for sixth-generation – or 6G – wireless services.

“If you think I’m too early on this one, think again. Much like in the early days of 5G, the scrum for 6G is already intensifying,” Rosenworcel said on Tuesday at the 10th Americas Spectrum Management Conference.

Rosenworcel suggested the government take a page from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which was created by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019. The Cyber Solarium is a bipartisan commission that has had great success since its inception, including crafting 25 cybersecurity recommendations that have been signed into law, with dozens more on track.

Just as it did for cybersecurity, Rosenworcel urged the government to create a new “6G Solarium” to develop and prioritize 6G spectrum objectives and strategies.

“I think what’s good for cybersecurity is good for 6G. What we need now is new thinking, broader consensus, and more early focus than we had for 5G,” Rosenworcel said.

“We need a 6G Solarium that brings together government, business, the nonprofit sector, and the rest of civil society and the public to chart a new course,” she continued. “That way, we can pursue policymaking that works and ensure our continued wireless leadership far into the future.”

While no one knows what 6G technologies will entail yet, Rosenworcel noted many other countries around the world have already begun brainstorming. According to Rosenworcel, South Korea aims to deploy 6G networks in 2028, research programs in Finland and Japan have agreed to collaborate on 6G technologies, China released its 14th Five-Year Plan that includes the next steps for 6G, and other European countries “have launched projects, programs, and alliances” to develop 6G.

In July, Rosenworcel announced the FCC would reestablish its Technological Advisory Council and tasked the council to start looking beyond 5G and conceptualize the 6G landscape. With its new focus, Rosenworcel hopes the FCC will be able to help the nation “turn the latest scientific research into viable communications technologies that will help power our future.”

“In the wireless industry, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the issues over the horizon. So let’s keep pushing to realize the full potential of 5G,” Rosenworcel said. “While we’re doing that, let’s take the lessons of the past few years to put us on a smart course for the next generation of wireless technology. If we do that, the next 10 years of mobile innovation can be even greater than what we saw in the past – and that would be incredible.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.