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Apple seeks geniuses to work on 6G cellular modem before it's even shipped own 5G chip

It's a good time to be a wireless communications architect or an AI engineer

Apple hasn't put homegrown 5G modems in its iPhones yet, but is already looking for a jump-start on 6G modems.

In the past few weeks, the Cupertino technology giant has posted job ads pointedly looking for talent that can put a 6G cellular modem into its product roadmap.

The "6G cellular platform architect" roles advertised here and here have a focus on developing reference and prototype 6G architectures as well as "implementing simulations and experiments to assess 6G technology candidates."

The job postings lift the lid off Apple's preliminary plans for developing and deploying 6G support plus its desire to use artificial intelligence in the design of modems and wireless electronics that can connect to 6G networks, which are themselves still in early stages of research.

Here are the key qualifications needed by applicants, according to Apple:

  • Proven track record in specifying, implementing, and productizing wireless systems.
  • Demonstrated experience in several of the following areas related to wireless systems: applying AI/ML techniques to specific problem statements; creating system abstractions and simplifications that allow rapid validation of research hypotheses; setting and refining system requirements to create solutions for prototype design, sub-component design, and validation; understanding product and application layer architectures in conjunction with deep hands-on knowledge of cellular systems.
  • Deep technical expertise in at least one of the following areas: 5G NR modem design and 3GPP standards; cellular and wireless networks; cellular product design and prototyping; RF system architectures; performance optimization in cellular networks; AI-driven wireless modem and system design.

"A deep understanding of wireless systems, network architectures, and user applications and services is required," the iGiant continued. "Experience with technical planning and leading cross-functional system programs, building prototypes, and co-operating with internal and external partners is highly desired."

Apple, which has made a name for itself in processor and system-on-chip design alone lately, is working on its own internal 5G modems for its products to free itself of outside suppliers. It is using Qualcomm 5G modems in its latest iPhones, according to teardowns by iFixit.

AI skills highly sought

Earlier this week, Apple also posted job ads for machine-learning engineers who can put their knowledge of artificial intelligence to work in developing 5G and 6G network technology. Applicants need to be familiar with "wireless system optimization for augmented reality, virtual reality and automotive applications," according to the job posting.

It could be argued that Apple is looking at the possible use of 6G in a metaverse, which involves human avatars working, interacting, and playing with friends in a parallel digital universe, with machine-learning algorithms optimizing the connectivity behind it all.

No one at Apple was prepared to comment on the job postings nor the company's 6G modem plans. The iGiant has a few positions open for 5G and 6G engineers dating back to February, which remain listed.

Fully immersive VR and interactive holograms were also identified by Samsung as possible 6G applications albeit with caveats. Such super-next-gen applications would need network speeds peaking at 1 terabit per second, 50 times that of today's 5G networks, while latency would need to be 100 microseconds, which is 10 times better than 5G.

Samsung last week said it expects 6G to be deployed starting in 2030 on radio spectrum that includes terahertz and sub-terahertz bands. 6G will involve a melting pot of traditional wireline and wireless networks, which could include satellites and mobility networks for unmanned aerial vehicles and drones. The standard will be developed by 3GPP, which is behind 5G.

Apple's job postings for 6G cell modem engineers comes ahead of 3GPP's release for the next major technology upgrade to 5G, called 5G Advanced, early next year. One of the ads mentioned the engineer would be responsible for Apple's input to establishing 6G network standards.

The groundwork for faster and more reliable communication channels in 6G will start with 5G Advanced, which is expected to include a new duplexing scheme for technologies that include AI and machine learning, and applications such as VR.

Samsung is already researching technologies for reliable communications on higher spectrum, which can otherwise be flaky and prone to interference. ®

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