Full Network Sensing: Architecting 6G beyond Communications
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As requirements for 6G systems start being shaped, we propose the provoking vision that the future generations of mobile networks shall reach beyond their traditional role of enablers for communication services. In fact, mobile networks have an impressive untapped potential for dual use as a pervasive remote sensing platform, which, if duly exploited, can support compelling original applications across a variety of domains. Unlocking this capacity requires a systematic end-to-end integration of sensing functionalities in the mobile network architecture beyond radio access, on a level and in synergy with classical data transport operations. In this paper, we formalize the vision above as the full network sensing paradigm. We discuss representative use cases for full network sensing, and requirements towards its implementation. We lay out a conceptual model for the integration and management of sensing functionalities into modern mobile network architectures, and present open technical challenges to realizing the full network sensing vision. These contributions lay the very first principles to a disruptive paradigm that can unlock new markets for mobile network providers, and support innovative remote sensing services that benefit the society at large.