6G will build a new framework for cellular communications, sensing and machine learning that requires a fundamental redesign of 5G along several key dimensions. 6G will need to deliver ultra-reliable wide area coverage, furnishing a tradeoff between extremely high data rates and low latency guarantees. 6G will also introduce communication/sensing co-design principles to achieve centimeter-level localization, including inside buildings and in both urban and rural areas, to allow the network to learn precisely where every device is. Machine learning techniques will become fundamental to operations from the physical layer through the network stack, including configuration and deployment, aided by the new network sensing capabilities. The key metrics will include power consumption and reliable coverage, as opposed to ever-increasing peak data rate. We envision an increasingly open and software-defined cellular network that builds on the O-RAN paradigm to provide a platform for continuous and more rapid innovation, as opposed to 5G and earlier.

In the 6G@UT research center at UT Austin, our four closely related key 6G research directions are

  1. Deeply embedded machine learning techniques across the protocol stack as well as spatial and temporal scales for site-specific adaptability and network automation.
  2. Pervasive sensing will feed machine learning algorithms continuously tuning and reconfiguring the network, while “sensing-as-a-service” will be offered to subscribers and applications.
  3. New spectrum above 100 GHz and new topologies for improved coverage, including massive low-earth orbit satellite constellations and self-backhauled small-cell deployments.
  4. Network slicing and sharing architectures will enable new revenue streams and sharing of network/spectrum resources for diverse tenets with different requirements.
We expect innovation to lie at the intersection of these areas, e.g. applying machine learning in conjunction with localization information to enable efficient resource sharing.

Within the 6G@UT research center, Prof. Evans' group is working on the following projects:

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