Sustainability as a challenge and driver for novel ecosystemic 6G business scenarios

Climate change, the deterioration of the environment and exceeding Earth’s carrying capacity are major threats in operating environment which require new actions in industrialized and digitalized society. In parallel with the global deployment of 5th generation (5G) mobile communication networks, the telecommunication community has already started to envision 6G networks that target the year 2030. This paper discusses the unprecedented opportunities in the future 6G ecosystem specifically from the business perspective and applies a futures-oriented scenario planning method utilized in two strategy workshops in 2020. The paper portrays four scenario themes and a total of 16 alternative future scenarios for the business of 6G. Through the identification of key trends, their interactions, and related uncertainties, the scenario development process generates alternative futures where 6G business strategies are then developed and assessed through the business model perspective. Scenarios were created under four themes: user experience, business, sustainability, and geopolitics and they are discussed in terms of economical, societal, and environmental perspectives. The findings of the paper highlight the achievement of a preferred sustainable future that calls for attention to the privacy and security aspects considering business and regulatory needs: public/governmental, corporate, community, and human perspectives and aims of governance; ecosystem configuration related to users, decentralized business models, and platforms; user empowerment; and the role of service location-specificity. The findings indicate that it is vital to bring together relevant stakeholders to solve sustainability problems within the ecosystem and pay special attention to open ecosystem-focused value configuration and decentralized poly-nodal power configuration, while responding to the diversified demands of various users across the different verticals.