The road to 6G: Ten physical layer challenges for communications engineers

Michalis Matthaiou*, Okan Yurduseven, Hien-Quoc Ngo, David Morales-Jimenez, Simon Cotton, Vincent Fusco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
704 Downloads (Pure)


While the deployment of 5G cellular systems will continue well in to the next decade, much interest is already being generated towards technologies that will
underlie its successor, 6G. Undeniably, 5G will have transformative impact on the way we live and communicate, yet, it is still far away from supporting the Internet-of-Everything (IoE), where upwards of a million devices per km3 (both terrestrial and aerial) will require ubiquitous, reliable, low-latency connectivity. This article looks at some of the fundamental problems that pertain to key physical layer enablers for 6G. This includes highlighting challenges related to intelligent reflecting surfaces, cell-free massive MIMO and THz communications. Our analysis covers theoretical modeling challenges, hardware implementation
issues and scalability among others. The article concludes by delineating the critical role of signal processing in the new era for wireless communications.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Communications Magazine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
AclMowledgMents The work of M. Matthaiou was supported by a research grant from the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland under the U.S.-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme and by the EPSRC, U.K., under Grant EP/P000673/1. The work of O. Yur-duseven was supported by a research grant from the Leverhulme Trust under the Research Leadership Award RL-2019-019. The work of Hien Q. Ngo was supported by the U.K. Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships under Grant MR/S017666/1.

Publisher Copyright:
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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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