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Do we need 6G wireless already? 5G engineers debate

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It was a minefield that attendees of the first day of sessions at Brooklyn 5G Summit 2019 on Wednesday maneuvered through: The topic of whether the world’s governmental policy makers have blown 5G wireless all out of proportion. Representatives of the world’s three principal telecommunications equipment suppliers — Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia — took the stage at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, along with other stakeholders in the 5G global standard.

At issue: Have the expectations of both policy makers and wireless customers been raised so high that the development of “6G Wireless” — until now merely a placeholder for future discussion — actually begins now?

“This summit is about 5G, but it is also ‘Year 0’ of the 6G era,” remarked Nokia President and CEO Rajeev Suri, without explaining whether that meant the clock had started or was on hold.

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“There is some pretty reasonable concern that people are getting distracted by 6G, while 5G is still in its infancy,” Suri continued during his keynote address. “Fair point.  But at the same time, we should recognize that forward-looking research and potential technology components could be useful, not only for 6G but also for evolved 5G. And that is what Nokia Bell Labs is working on.”

What’s the rush?

The standards body globally recognized for defining the 5G portfolio of technologies is 3GPP, an organization of telecommunications stakeholders founded during the 3G era.  Its members include, among other groups, service providers and equipment manufacturers. Though 3GPP is ultimately responsible for certifying 5G standards, it has actually published 15 complete versions of those standards, the latest of which was dubbed “5G” because its components can completely replace those specified by earlier versions. Release 16 of the 3GPP standards will also be 5G, and thus far, such is the plan for Release 17.

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Nokia President and CEO Rajeev Suri


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Under the precedent that 3GPP has set, a 6G standards portfolio would include components that may co-exist along 5G for a time, though are capable of replacing them completely. Here’s the problem:  This may not be what some members would prefer. Rather, especially as wireless technologies encompass broader ranges of business and consumer applications, they may consider it more practical for individual components to have their own lifecycles. Who knows, for example, whether standards for low-latency moving vehicle communications may become obsolete well before, say, the Millimeter Wave (mmWave) standard for fixed wireless access?

What’s so wrong with 3GPP Release 15, asked panel moderator Dr. Robert Heath, that mandates stakeholders pick up the pace for Release 16?

“I don’t think, fundamentally, there’s anything wrong with Release 15,” responded Peiying Zhu, senior director of wireless technology at Huawei. “In fact, we actually designed the standard in phased approaches. It’s kind of planned in that way.” Going forward, Zhu continued, she believed it would help the standard if more attention were paid to uplink speeds in throughput tests, not just downlink speeds.  

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 Peiying Zhu, Huawei senior director of wireless technology


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One potential mode of evolution for mobile communications, remarked Dr. Arun Ghosh, director of AT&T’s Advanced Wireless Technology Group, could be the actual phasing out of the cellular model. Base stations could, under a new and more dynamic model, serve more flexible and even fluctuating regions, perhaps even changing over time. Perhaps resilience could improve over a given region if more than one hub serviced it simultaneously.

“Multi-hub networks have existed for decades,” said Dr. Ghosh. “They just have not been in play in the cellular network. . . And I do see this paradigm shift of going to such architecture, eventually evolving. Who knows, maybe in the future, your network infrastructure itself could be on a mobile platform?  I think that’s why some of the non-terrestrial options of delivering network, are very important. When we say ‘non-terrestrial,’ we always start to think about satellite, but that’s not the only option; there are other options that could be much closer to the ground, that are perhaps much more interesting.”  

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Dr. Arun Ghosh, director of AT&T’s Advanced Wireless Technology Group


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Tomorrow’s backhaul today

The future AT&T’s Ghosh brought forth could be a very different one than even 5G’s earliest architects envisioned. Without all the cumbersome processing equipment tied to base stations, not only could they become lightweight, they could conceivably be mobile themselves. At the very least, transmitters blown out of commission during a wind storm could be replaced by teams of one or two workers in pickup trucks, in a matter of minutes. It sounds like the kind of future to which you could attach a “6G” banner.

But Huawei’s Zhu reminded her colleagues, the basic technologies that would make such a situation feasible are already part of the 5G portfolio.

“I think what you put here is not really for ‘Beyond 5G,” said Zhu. “I think NFV [network functions virtualization], C-RAN [Cloud (China) Radio Access Network] — they’re happening already, in the product, right now. The issue with C-RAN is really, do you have reliable, fast backhaul?  But I think in fact, mmWave can be used to enable C-RAN. It makes C-RAN easier. I think those will definitely happen in 5G; it’s not going to be ‘Beyond 5G.”http://www.zdnet.com/”

“Backhaul,” as Zhu referred to it, is the transfer of data and voice traffic that needs to take place on the back end, to make that content available through the transmitter by customers. Up until recently, engineers thought that countless thousands of miles of fiber optic pipes would need to be laid to enable the colossal amount of backhaul that 5G would require. Then more recently, some engineers suggested that mmWave — a technology originally envisioned to replace wired broadband for gigabit speed Internet customers — could be leveraged as an alternate backhaul mechanism, for when carving up the Earth to lay new pipes simply isn’t practical.


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Zhu’s implication here is that a simple reassignment of functionality in the 5G portfolio could lead to the future Ghosh outlined: One where a fixed fiber connection wouldn’t be necessary for a transmitter and base station to go live.

But Zhu was also saying something deeper and much more critical to Huawei’s future as a global competitor. Huawei has a deep stake in the intellectual property of 5G. Indeed, it is an original creator of many of its technologies and, along with China Mobile, co-created the C-RAN base station scheme that inspired 5G in the first place.

Huawei’s deputy chairwoman remains under house arrest in Vancouver on a US warrant alleging her firm did business with Iran in violation of sanctions against that country. And just Wednesday, the UK government said it would limit Huawei’s participation in its own 5G rollout to “non-core” elements of the network — without really explaining what parts those are. By one interpretation, since Huawei is measurably responsible for core 5G technologies, it may only be able to participate in technologies in which it has no direct stake.

That ship may have sailed

The UK’s decision is not quite in defiance of Germany, which earlier this month was given the green light to participate in its 5G rollout. This after a warning from the US weeks earlier that it could suspend its partnership in German intelligence partnerships, ended up being walked back.

Growing tensions between the countries that just happen to be 5G equipment providers’ principal customers, especially with regard to what they still perceive as a “race to 5G” between themselves, has provoked some to consider whether it’s time to set 6G goalposts — especially for the US — and aim for them.

“I think there’s a lot that you can learn from being early in the process for a new generation of technology,” remarked Chris Pearson, president of telco advocacy group 5G Americas. “In the North American market, we saw that 4G LTE, we were very early, we pushed it to the limit, I think. . .and it did serve the North American market very well. . . It is a long race, but you get a learning curve that’ll help you in this long race.”

That prompted a comment from Adrian Scrase, who heads the 3GPP partnership committee for parent organization ETSI, on what he called “this rush-to-be-first bit.”

“Let’s be fair. Presidents of countries are saying, ‘My country’s going to be the first to deploy.’  The UK prime minister at the time, [David] Cameron, said the UK is going to be the first country in Europe to deploy 5G. (He’s now an ex-prime minister, but that’s for a different reason.)  My point is, standardization takes time. It takes several years to write a generation of standards. When we set about this process in 2015, there were many, many operators saying, ‘We don’t need this right now. Please slow down the standardization process!  We don’t need 5G, because LTE’s doing fine.’ And yet when we started the three- or four-year program of writing these standards, during that process, there was this massive acceleration, and the political push that said, ‘We want these standards right now!  Why are you so slow, 3GPP? You need to speed up!’

“My point is,” Scrase wrapped up, “standards historically are either too early or too late. It’s very difficult to have standards that are perfectly on-time. It’s even more difficult when the timeline keeps shifting forwards and backwards.”

Scrase’s assertions illustrated an apparent disconnect between the political and the technological proponents of 5G. A “6G” would be very convenient for countries wary of becoming perceived as lagging behind in 5G, perhaps for backing the wrong proverbial horses — or trying to exclude the right ones. And the group with “3G” still in its name is still trying to dry the ink on the second version — the second of maybe four, perhaps more — of today’s idea of the future.

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Alpha Motors Superwolf is a completely decked out electric pickup

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Alpha Motors unveiled a new version of its all-electric pickup called the Superwolf. The difference between this particular version of the truck and the ones that have been shown before is that the Superwolf is completely decked out with all sorts of accessories you might expect to find only on the aftermarket. One of the more interesting accessories seen on the truck is tube doors similar to what you commonly see on Jeeps.

Superwolf also has custom KMC wheels with large off-road tires, a custom front bumper with tow rings and skid plates, as well as a complete roof rack featuring an LED light bar and large locking case. In the bed of the truck is a rack that adds more style to the truck and supports the roof basket.

Under the doors are also compact step rails that look like they are intended to protect the vehicle’s body while off-roading. The truck also features wide fender flares and looks fantastic in general. Other interesting features of the truck include a bed cover that appears to be made out of aluminum and a rack that spans the bed allowing for items to be attached on top of the bed itself.

Several other accessories are available for the truck, including a bed extension and more. Other than the accessories, Superwolf features a driving range of up to 300 miles per charge. It has two motors for four-wheel drive and can reach 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. The truck has a tow rating of 6724 pounds and features a rapid charger with battery cooling and heating.

The truck’s interior can hold four passengers and has a digital display for the driver along with the wide-format center display. Bluetooth connectivity and premium sound are also featured. Superwolf can be reserved now with a starting MSRP listed at between $48,000 and $56,000.

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Classic 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am racer heads to auction

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When it comes to muscle cars of the 60s, one of the most iconic is the Chevrolet Camaro. The value of a normal Chevrolet Camaro from the era is often very high. The value of this 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am is even higher as it’s an actual successful racing car from the era. This vehicle is the first of six Sunoco Trans Am Camaros that Penske Racing built.

This particular car has an extensive racing history with drivers Mark Donohue and George Follmer behind the wheel. The car has been completely restored by Kevin McKay in its iconic Sunoco racing livery. The car is said to be one of the most significant Chevrolet-powered racing cars ever built. Because of its rarity and racing pedigree, the car is expected to bring as much as $2 million at auction in Pebble Beach.

The car features a 302 cubic inch overhead valve V-8 engine and a single four-barrel carburetor. It’s estimated to produce 450 horsepower and has a four-speed manual gearbox along with four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. The front suspension is independent wishbone with coil springs, while the rear has a live axle with leaf springs, a setup common in the era.

The racing series the car was built for required a 302 cubic-inch engine. The Z/28 was born due to the need to produce examples for homologation. The Z/28 became the Camaro performance production model, with 602 examples being built in 1967. The first 25 of those cars off the assembly line were sent to racers. This particular car was the 14th produced and was sent to Roger Penske.

This car is the first of only six Penske Camaros built between 1967 and 1969. The auction house says that over $330,000 was spent to restore the iconic car completely. The car comes with a file documenting its extensive racing history and photos of the car as it was discovered and during its restoration.

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VW Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept has 300HP under the hood

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We all know the VW Atlas Cross Sport as a five-seat version of the Atlas SUV. But as the German automaker unveiled its Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept, we’re pretty much convinced it has the gravitas to trounce other sporty crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 and Infiniti QX50.

The concept starts with a range-topping Atlas Cross Sport SEL Premium R-Line version with a 3.6-liter V6 engine, race-inspired R-Line exterior styling, and standard all-wheel-drive. But instead of having a V6, the folks at Volkswagen Chattanooga gave the concept a modified EA888 motor from the VW Golf R. It also gets a new front-mounted radiator (from the Mk7 Golf R) and a new IS38 turbocharger.

Pumping out no less than 300 horsepower, the 2.0-liter mill sends the grunt to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Mind you, the 2.0-liter four-banger produces more power and torque than the stock V6 motor while being lighter, too.

“The launch of the all-new Golf GTI and Golf R got us thinking about how to inject some of that VW magic into our SUVs,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. It seems VW started it right by giving the concept a properly sporting engine. If you’re wondering, the Mk8 VW Golf R is the most powerful Golf ever made. It has 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque from its high-strung EA88 2.0-liter four-banger.

But Volkswagen didn’t do it alone. It sought the help of long-time VW collector and professional auto builder Jamie Orr in dressing up the Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept. If you remember, Orr also created the Tiguan SE R-Line Black RiNo concept, a lowered and dressed-up Tiguan with a Thule bike rack. It also came with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower.

After lobbying for the Golf R’s 300 plus-horsepower engine, Orr gave the concept four Recaro Sportster CS sports seats in place of the usual five-seat configuration. After painting the entire thing in striking Kingfisher Blue paint, the Atlas Cross Sport GT concept received gloss black exterior trim, GT badging, and a set of magnificent 22-inch ABT Sport HR aero wheels wrapped in Yokohama Advan Sport V105 ultra-high-performance tires.

Underneath, the concept has ST XTA Plus 3 coilover suspension with GT-concept springs and TAROX eight-piston front brakes. Those wheels not only look incredible, but it enhances the crossover’s ground-hugging vibe. “This concept is proof that it’s possible to build SUVs that could appeal to our performance enthusiast base,” added Keogh.

Meanwhile, the interior has custom Eisvogelblau blue trim and non-animal-based materials. The Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept may be a one-off, but it’s one of the best-looking and most desirable production-based concepts we’ve seen in a while.

Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept Gallery

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