Connectivity expert Tarik Taleb wants to make noise about 6G

Connectivity expert Tarik Taleb wants to make noise about 6G

Professor Tarik Taleb is all about networks. Not in the social mingling, here-is-my-business-card-we-should-do-lunch sense, although he is no doubt proficient in that, too. Taleb runs the MOSA!C Lab in Aalto University and, according to him, everything the lab does is related to connectivity. Taleb has been involved with the 6G Flagship from the start and is working on the first white paper on the subject with professor Matti Latva-aho and the team. Taleb is bridging the research collaboration between Aalto University and the University of Oulu and splits his time between the two universities.

Taleb’s focus in research is relevant to networking, something that he feels very passionate about. For instance, he doesn’t think 5G will deliver on all the expectations we have laid upon it--at least, not in the immediate future.

-We are expecting services which will require ultra-low latency and very high reliability. 5G in the next 2-3 years will not be able to support the things we need. Things like drones beyond line of sight or self-driving vehicles. These will not happen because of regulation and because the technology is not there yet, Taleb says, sitting in his office at the Aalto University.


Take self-driving cars. While we are being told that any day now, fleets of automated cars will roll out and everyone can just sit in the backseat, sipping coffee while getting to work safely and on time, Taleb says that we should probably not hold our breath just yet.

-You need connectivity. Many car manufacturers say that decisions like braking or continuing to move have to be taken locally by the car. Still, you need someone with a view of the situation as a whole and you need connectivity for that. We are talking about services that are possibly life-threatening and we need to have very short latency and very high reliability for those to work safely, Taleb says.


And once we have self-driving cars and human drivers are made obsolete, what will the passengers in these cars do? They will obviously be consuming something, Taleb says. They will be working, they will be watching movies and TV shows, they will be playing games and so on.

-So, the car will need lots of data for situational intelligence. Where are pedestrians, what’s the speed limit, where’s congestion, should I brake etc. At the same time, the vehicle may become a source of data, streaming videos, pictures, all kinds of data. And the passenger will be watching a movie. Therefore, the car will consume lots and lots of download data and also contribute large amounts of upload data. This is one car. Now multiply that with the millions and millions of cars around the world, Taleb says.

-These will not be supported by 5G as we expect it to be in 2020, or 2022. I am trying to find solutions for these problems and also anticipating other services, holographs, teleportation, more 6G things, he continues.


Taleb is keen to point out that the evolution of the network always comes from the top, from services. Apps will come along and some of them will prove to be more popular than others and they will create new demands on the technology. Taleb offers an example.

-For instance, we are having this conversation face-to-face in my office. Imagine that there was a device that would teleport you from Oulu to Espoo at the push of a button. Something, that could create a 3D representation of you in this space which would essentially be no different from meeting in person. And we would want to push a button on a cell phone or the like to make it happen, no camera arrays or heavy equipment anywhere. Now, imagine that in scale, globally. This is a device problem and a network problem. Sounds like science fiction, but everything is possible, according to Taleb.


So, what will the future bring? Taleb says that the research community can do a lot and achieve a lot, but the big question is how much of that can and will be adopted by industry? Economy, different needs and regulations always play major roles in any industry decision. Taleb says that his team at the lab has developed interesting solutions to operate remote drones, but they require licences and that has turned out to be the biggest hurdle.


For now, Taleb says he is very excited to extend the MOSA!C Lab to Oulu and to the Centre For  Wireless Communication to do research together. According to Taleb, this means hiring students in Oulu, making joint publications and joint demos and so on. The universities are also collaborating in a major EU program concerning 5G drones, where the goal is to test 5G infrastructure, Taleb explains.

-This is a project that we gained. Oulu is coordinating, Aalto is included as well as Nokia. The idea is to use the 5G Test Network in Oulu and see how the network operates in different use cases for drones. This will help drone manufacturers and other operators in the drone ecosystem.


While the research is on-going, Taleb says that he and the 6G team are busy “making noise” about the 6G Flagship.

-We are raising awareness on 6G and having brainstorming sessions in different events, such as this year’s IEEE WCNC in Morocco. Things are in good swing, and now we need really great talent who can do cutting edge research, Tarik Taleb says.


Cutting edge research, teleportation, science fiction becoming science fact. This all is happening at 6G Flagship with its cross-university and cross-industry approach to the next Next Generation of telecommunication.

Text&photos: Janne-Pekka Manninen

Last updated: 18.6.2019