Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are the backbone of the modern economy. Networks are changing rapidly: we continue to shift from hardware to software to make networks faster, simpler and more scalable. 6G must be designed to leverage these changing network structures to provide fast, affordable and reliable connectivity to the entire globe. The Path to 6G Session gathers leaders in the 6G space who are designing the networks of tomorrow.

Key challenges 6G must address include trust and security, resilience and sustainability, innovations in wireless technology and materials engineering, as well as 6G integration with complementary technologies including cloud and AI. The networks of the future must do more than ever, while consuming less power and providing heterogeneous and ubiquitous connectivity. How do we balance cutting-edge technology with the need to bridge the digital divide and keep costs low? Do applications drive the technology, or does technology drive next-gen applications? And how can the industry more rapidly and create agile solutions, all while being more secure than ever?

These topics and others will be discussed among experts across industry, academia and government. The talks and will provide an overview of where we are today and a roadmap of where we need to be in the next 5-10 years.


Title Speaker Time
ATIS Next G Alliance Benoit Pelletier, NGA Steering 15 + Q&A
Operations Zeerak Khan, TELUS 15 + Q&A
Sustainability/Societal + Economic Needs Marie-Paule Odini, NGA Green G 15 + Q&A
Research Directions Meryem Simsek, VMware 15 + Q&A
Applications Swaminathan Arunachalam, Nokia 15 + Q&A
Hexa-X Initiative Patrik Rugeland, Hexa-X/Ericsson 15 + Q&A
Public Private Partnerships Thyagarajan Nandagopal (NSF) 15 + Q&A
Total (time in min) 120 min


Benoit Pelletier
Benoit Pelletier is currently Director, Next Gen Ecosystems & Alliances in the Advanced Technologies SEBU at VMware with a Global mandate.  Co-founder of the Open Grid Alliance as well as the $400M ENCQOR 5G Public Private Partnership initiative with international collaboration between Canada, USA, Europe and UK, executive member of the board for Innovation ENCQOR, a NPO created to deliver this PPP across Quebec-Ontario corridor.

Serving as co-chair of the Next G Alliance Steering Group, on the board of 5G Americas, 6G World Advisory Council, general co-chair of IEEE 5G World Forum and Industry Fora conference.

Creative thinker and passionate about collaborative innovation, disruptive technologies, and execution! Proven leader with an intrapreneur mindset who creates rich and unique ecosystems that connect multinational corporations, SMBs, governments and academia.

“Innovate or Evaporate” has been his mantra over the last 30 years in different industry markets:  Telecom at VMware, Ciena and Nortel, Transport at Bombardier, and Military-Aerospace at Oerlikon Aerospace.

Benoit held several leadership positions in design, system integration, program management and business development.  Broad knowledge in Product Development and expertise in New Product Introduction of cutting-edge technologies along with government relationships.  Benoit holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Sherbrooke.


Zeerak Khan
I have over twenty years of RF design, optimization and management experience in the wireless telecommunications industry. I have planned, designed, deployed, optimized and participated in the operations of many mobile and fixed wireless companies internationally.



Marie-Paule Odini
Marie-Paule Odini is Distinguished Technologist in HPE Communication Technology Group (CTG) focused on customer innovation and emerging trends in the communication industry including NFV, SDN, IoT, AI and 5G. She holds a worldwide position and drives technical discussions towards 5G with customers and inside HPE around strategy and roadmaps. She also leads CTG standard and opensource group, being personally active in many different forums including ETSI, GSMA, TMForum, NGMN, TIP, 5G Americas and ATIS. She held key positions such as ETSI NFV Vice Chair, IEEE SDN Chair, TIP E2E network slicing co-chair, 5G Americas and GSMA Telco Edge key contributor. Prior to HPE she worked in France Telecom/Orange labs in charge of Value Added Services for Corporate Enterprise. She holds a Master Degree in EE from Utah State University. She is also teaching telecom at the university.
Marie-Paule is also very concerned with climate change and environmental impact, participating actively to HPE Living Progress program and other personal engagements.


Meryem Simsek
Dr. Simsek is a chief scientist in advanced technologies at VMware where she is defining, launching, and leading academic research projects, PPPs, and contributions to industry alliances. Prior to this, she was a senior research scientist at Intel Labs and the International Computer Science Institute Berkeley as well as a research group leader at the Technical University Dresden, Germany. She holds a Dipl.-Ing. (M.Sc., 2008) and Dr.-Ing. (PhD, 2013) degree from the University Duisburg-Essen, Germany. She is known for her pioneering work on machine-learning based solutions for wireless systems, self-organizing networks (SON), and the Tactile Internet. Dr. Simsek co-authored more than 100 publications has co-edited two books and has delivered 30+ invited talks and keynotes. She is the recipient of the IEEE Communications Society Fred W. Ellersick Prize in 2015 and the Rising Star in Computer Networking and Communications Award by N2Women in 2019. Dr. Simsek’s main research interests are in future wireless systems, AI/ML, and self-* networks.


Swaminathan Arunachalam
Swami, Senior Director of 6G Research Alliances, is a seasoned technology management executive with more than 20 years of international experience in telecommunication industry. His current work includes creating & executing the vision, strategy of the 6G collaborative research in North America including evangelizing and building alliances with senior industry leadership (e.g. Next G Alliance and NSF RINGS). He held several leadership positions in engineering, technology, and business development. Swami is passionate in creating collaboration and converting challenges into innovative product & solutions with disruptive technologies. He is the co-creator of Nokia’s Mobile Edge Computing product and published several patents. His current technologies of focus are ORAN, 6G, AI/ML in wireless and Edge computing.


Patrik Rugeland
Patrik Rugeland received the M.Sc. in Engineering Physics in 2009 and Ph.D. in Applied Physics in 2013 from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden. In 2014, he joined the Wireless Access Network department at Ericsson Research, Stockholm, Sweden, and has since been working on standardization and concept development for LTE-Advanced and NR with a focus on radio network architecture and protocols. primarily towards 3GPP RAN2 in a role as both individual contributor and as a team leader, He is currently the technical manager in the EU funded 6G research project Hexa-X and he currently has filed more than 75 patents in the area.


Dr. Thyaga Nandagopal
Dr. Thyaga Nandagopal is the Deputy Division Director of the Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF) Division in the Directorate of Computer & Information Science and Engineering (CISE) at the National Science Foundation. In this role, he oversees the division’s investments in the theory and foundations of computing systems and communications technologies, with an annual budget of nearly $200M. His current interests are in research policy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence and advanced wireless networks (beyond 5G). He has brought in over $100M from external partners into NSF-funded research programs. He previously served as a Program Director at the NSF in the Networking Technologies and Systems (NeTS) program, where he managed mobile systems and wireless networking research across multiple funding programs with an annual budget of over $50M. At NSF, Thyaga is also leading the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research program, a $100M effort over the 2017 – 2024 timeframe. He serves as the co-chair of the Wireless Spectrum Research and Development Senior Steering Group (WSRD SSG), which co-ordinates spectrum-related research and development activities across the Federal government. Dr. Nandagopal is also a co-chair of the NSF-wide Quantum Leap Steering Committee, that coordinates NSF investments in inter-disciplinary research in quantum computing, communications and sensing. He is an IEEE Fellow, and holds a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.