Apple is hiring 6G engineers. Are they so forward thinking that they are a whole generation ahead? The answer is no they will get to 6G when everyone else gets there (late 2020’s), but there job postings hint at something we suspect they are working on.
We first heard about this job posting from an article in Light Reading. They are a good site, but this post did not have a lot of detail. So we went to the source, the Apple job site. A search there for 6G comes up with 4 results. By contrast, a search for wireless has 300+ results, and Apple currently has about 3,000 open roles listed. So Apple is not going to “capture” 6G.
The 4 job descriptions are fairly straightforward. They are looking for people with deep experience in the wireless standards. On the one hand, these requirements are fairly sophisticated, they are not just looking for someone to design a wireless module. The candidates need to have an understanding of the fundamentals of wireless communications. This is typical Apple. They like to hire people who can start from first principles and design from there, often leaving the messy bits of implementation to their suppliers.
That being said, it seems to us that these jobs are fairly open-ended in what they are expecting for the role.
Join us to help deliver system design of next generation groundbreaking radio access networks.
Proven track-record of innovation in the area of wireless system design
This is a “research” role and they are clearly looking for something different, innovative.
Good knowledge of physical layer waveform design, channel coding and PHY/MAC procedures
Deep understanding of multi-antenna techniques and procedures such as Massive MIMO, mmWave Beamforming and Beam Acquisition, mmWave mesh networks
Familiarity with L2/L3 user plane and control plane protocol stacks and ability to perform cross-layer optimizations
These are fairly specific and speak to a candidate who can really “get their hands dirty” in building wireless systems.
Strong exposure to wireless system design and channel sounder design in very high frequencies (GHz, THz)
This one caught our eye first because it sounds like the recipe for creating the Incredible Hulk, but it also is talking about specific frequencies. This could be explained as simply preparation for mmWave systems. This is the next phase of 5G (or maybe 6G) and still faces significant challenges for commercialization. Either way it is a very forward looking role.
There are few possible things this could mean. The job could just be as simple as Apple needs people to help them build better cellular functionality into their phones. The “6G” just being shorthand for ‘future’ additions to the wireless standards. However, we think this hints at something less prosaic. We now know that Apple is looking to build its own wireless modems, and the fact that half the jobs are located in San Diego speaks volumes to who they are looking to hire. We wrote about Apple’s modem efforts a few months back, and in that piece we speculated that when Apple launches that modem they are likely to want to demonstrate the benefits of their homegrown system. We made up the idea of cellular communications with private messaging systems analogous to the Blue Bubbles of their private text messaging system. If Apple really wants to build something that no one else has in thier modem, something only available on iPhones, they are going to need people who know the wireless standards inside and out, who have a deep understanding of the physical layer of wireless systems, who have exposure to high frequency signals. In short, they will need people with backgrounds that look just like those in this job description.