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Sustainability First in 6G Communications

Sustainability is  one of the core principle in the development of 6G communications technology. As we move forward into this new era of 6G connectivity, it is imperative that we not only focus on enhancing speed, througput, and capacity but also on minimizing environmental impact and ensuring long-term viability.  According to the report of Ericsson, Information and Communication Technology equipment consumes about 3.6% of global electricity,  thereby producing  1.4% of total carbon emissions while forming about 6% of the global economy.





In 6G, sustainability employs that all the basic resources are efficiently utilized, and contamination is reduced by recycling. Regarding the use of basic resources, the number of transmitted bits in a given time interval and the use of basic resources per bit should be minimized. The fundamental limits of nature in the universe form constraints in the shape of optimization.  For example, radio waves propagate at the speed of light, and thus the minimum delay depends on the physical encountered distances. This ensures that all the communication networks are distributed in the sense, which implies for in larger consumption of resources compared to the case where everything is reported in one place. The network in 6G must be carefully designed, for instance by minimizing the amount of control information and emphasizing local processing. 

One of the key requirements of 6G is able to significantly reduce energy consumption compared to its previous generations. This could be achieved through the combination of hardware and software innovations. In hardware, more energy-efficient components and materials would be deployed. For example, the use of novel semiconductors with the lower power consumption and advanced cooling techniques would play a pivotal role in sustainability.  In the software part, the intelligent power algorithms would be implemented. The purpose of these algorithms would be for dynamic adjustments and rectifications in the power-usage based real-time network demands. For example, expecially during the periods of low activity, certain components in the network should be powered down to conserve energy. 6G  could exploit and harness the potential of renewable energy sources  in order to power its network infrastructure. This should involve the integration of solar panels, wind turbines, and other sustainable energy solutions encompassing into the design of base stations and data centers. By doing so, the aim is not only to reduce the reliance of 6G on  energy grids but also in a way to contribute positively for the local environment. 6G also focuses on the eco-friendly environment and the use of eco-friendly materials in the manufacturing. This involves designing devices and infrastucture components with recyclable materials and therefore,  minimizing the use of hazardous substances. Furthermore, efforts can also be made to extend the lifespan of devices through modular design and repairability, thereby reducing electronic waste.

Another critical aspect of 6G‘s sustainability focus lies in its support for a wide array of applications that directly contribute to a more sustainable world. This includes applications in agriculture, transportation, healthcare, and urban planning. For example, advanced IoT sensors and AI-driven analytics can revolutionize precision agriculture, leading to optimized resource usage and reduced environmental impact.

In conclusion, the sustainability-first approach in 6G communications represents a pivotal shift towards responsible technological advancement. By prioritizing energy efficiency, renewable resources, eco-friendly materials, and applications that promote sustainability, 6G technology aims not only to revolutionize connectivity but also to create a positive impact on our planet. This comprehensive approach is essential in building a future where technology and the environment coexist harmoniously.

We believe 6G shall be designed to make sustainable breakthroughs on all fronts: from improved network footprint to societal, economic and environmental benefits such as macro-economic gains, a narrower digital divide, and improvements to education, healthcare and other key sectors.
Achieving that full promise will require putting sustainability at the center of 6G technology development, starting with the many global cross-sectoral initiatives that are taking place today.

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