July 7, 2023
The New Era of Connectivity
Beyond 5G: The New Era of Connectivity
At NEC, we look forward to the beginning of a new era of connectivity which we call ‘Beyond 5G’. NEC defines Beyond 5G as a communications system that integrates networks with distributed data processing, organically utilizing computation resources distributed worldwide and implementing real-time interaction across the globe. Beyond 5G technology will shape a new society — which will remove all physical barriers to communication and unlock the full reach of human potential even beyond it. The technical evolution of Beyond 5G will be of much greater scale than an isolated step in the development of wireless communication technology: Beyond 5G will develop through a process of merging the latest network solutions with complementary technologies such as distributed computing and AI. This revolution in technical capability will have wide-ranging effects, from transforming individual lives to the wider scale of reshaping businesses and society.
Beyond 5G: What the future holds for society
With our progress towards a Beyond 5G future, physical barriers of space and time will be progressively withdrawn, which will, in turn, remove social barriers and empower a fully inclusive society to thrive without limitation. New experiences are waiting to be discovered: a seamlessly integrated blend of real and virtual worlds will enable every individual to reach their potential without physical or temporal limitations. With a seamless universal network coverage — opportunities will flourish for people in all parts of the world to shape their lives according to their values. This will extend into diversifying choice of workstyles — we will see greater freedom and a wider range of choices for how people choose to work than are currently available.
The effect of Beyond 5G will reach beyond our current lifestyles to transform our relationship with the physical world. Through newfound access to past data, real-time data, and future data, we will be able to interpret global-scale phenomena that were previously too complex to be analyzed in precise terms (such as abnormal weather) or for the purpose of making predictions. A new understanding of ourselves and the world will be unlocked through the power of Beyond 5G.
The role of AI in data analytics and processing
The volume of data processing required to achieve this vision of a fully integrated society will require an innovative unification of different technologies: AI and globally distributed computing powers will be integrated to create a dynamic network that can carry the enormous and constant flow of data with real-time processing. The sum of these combined technologies is what defines ‘Beyond’ 5G at a technical level. This will be the foundation needed to achieve communication performance with high speed, high capacity, and low latency. The relationship between networks and AI will emerge through a co-evolutionary process; At NEC, we are already working along the lines of a bidirectional and organic development between ‘AI for Networks’ and ‘Networks for AI’. AI technologies must be able to sustain fully automated processing, and this will require AI that can adapt and evolve in response to changes in the environment in order to maintain real-time processing on a global scale.
Three types of communications
The Beyond 5G revolution will be supported by three types of communications: hyper-realistic communication, digital twins, and ubiquitous global coverage. To achieve the first of these, new forms of data must be incorporated: spatial information, the five human senses, along with wider contextual information about the motivations of our interactions. As for digital twins, these are a means to extract data from the real world and reproduce it in a virtual world. Lastly, seamless coverage across all locations on Earth will be attained by a range of technologies to eliminate remaining dead zones such as millimeter waves, terahertz waves, geostationary orbit satellites (GEO), low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, and high-altitude platform stations (HAPS).
Our next steps to reach this vision
NEC continues to push forward our vision for Beyond 5G through the ongoing expansion of 5G performance and capabilities while integrating our distributed data platform as part of the development. NEC is one of few companies in the world with the necessary range of top-class technologies across a range of fields; these are utilized through an integrated approach that unifies the latest network technologies with distributed data processing from the initial R&D phase of development. In addition, we are maximizing and innovating our system building and operations capabilities to drive our vision of a society transformed by leading-edge technologies that create value for everyone.