It’s already making headlines in the technological world, but what is 6G and when will it be available? 5G is now (almost) here. You may get a 5G smartphone today and begin enjoying all of the benefits of a 5G data connection. However, technology advances at a breakneck pace, and discussions about the next step in the realm of mobile connectivity are already underway.
There is an increasing quantity of 6G material available, much of it based on a few papers and research. Let’s clear up some misconceptions regarding 6G and determine the true state of this future technology.
Is 6G a reality?
True and false. While 6G (or whatever it is eventually named) will eventually replace 5G, the technology is not yet operational and is still in the development phase. Mobile telecom businesses are far too concentrated on 5G to address 6G in any meaningful sense, while early research initiatives have begun as a result of support from governments seeking a competitive edge.
When will 6G be available?
“It’s a little early to discuss 6G.”
Not our words, but those of Erik Ekudden, Ericsson’s chief technology officer (CTO), during the MWVC 2019 Shanghai conference in July 2019. Then, in December 2020, Verizon CTO Kyle Malady stated, “I truly have no idea what 6G is.” We’ll say it again: 5G is the focus of attention at the moment.
However, since research is only beginning, when will 6G be available? Ekudden thinks that 6G will arrive in roughly a decade, which is consistent with Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei’s statement to CNBC in September 2019 that 6G would arrive in at least a decade. ABI Research stated in a 2021 research that early commercial deployment will begin in 2028 and 2029, followed by more broad rollouts in the following years.
How quick will 6G technology be?
Although we do not yet know how fast 6G will be, estimates place it at about 100 times the speed of 5G. The International Telecommunication Union will likely create the final specifications defining what a 6G connection is (ITU). After more than eight years of labour, the ITU just finalised the standards for 5G (dubbed IMT-2020), and is anticipated to begin a similar process for 6G shortly.
That hasn’t stopped experts from making educated guesses about how fast 6G will be. One of the most frequently cited is from Dr. Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam of the University of Sydney, who asserts that 6G could produce mind-boggling speeds of 1 terabyte per second, or 8,000 gigabits per second. Forget about downloading a single Netflix movie in a few seconds over 5G; at 6G speeds, you could download 142 hours of Netflix content in less than a second.
The ITU, on the other hand, has not yet published much about 6G. In May 2019, it discussed IMT-2030, which it characterises as a hybrid network and a 5G update — rather than a whole new network, as 6G is expected to be.
What does 6G mean to you personally?
It will be similar to 5G, but more so. Increased speeds, decreased latency, and an abundance of bandwidth. According to researchers and experts, 6G will go beyond a “wired” network, with devices acting as antennae and a decentralised network not controlled by a single network operator. If everything is connected via 5G, 6G will liberate these connected devices, since faster data speeds and lower latency enable rapid device-to-device communication.
While the technology expected to emerge from 5G — from driverless cars and drones to smart cities — will be advanced further with 6G, it may also enable science fiction applications such as the merging of our brains and computers, as well as significantly improved touch control systems. According to NTT DoCoMo, 6G enables “cyberspace to support human cognition and activity in real time via wearable gadgets and microdevices installed on the human body.” For similar reasons, some have dubbed it “Teleportation of the senses.”
The paper indicates that science fiction may become science fact, stating that rates above 100Gbps may enable sensory interfaces that feel and look exactly like real life, possibly via smart glasses or contact lenses. It goes on to discuss the importance of low power usage for over-the-air charging and the possibility of extending coverage across the sea and even into space.
Who is involved in the development of 6G?
Throughout 2020 and early 2021, 6G research programmes gained traction as governments worldwide began investigating possibilities, eager to adopt new technology ahead of competitors. This can be divided down into numerous recent significant investments.
- China’s official news agency reports that the country has already launched a 6G experimental satellite into orbit. According to reports, the spacecraft would be one of 13 new satellites launched by China aboard the Long March-6 rocket in November 2020. According to the China Global Television Network, the satellite weighed 70 kg and was built to aid in data transmission testing over large distances in the terahertz region. The satellite could be used to monitor crops, forest fires, and other aspects of the ecosystem. CNIPA (China National Intellectual Property Administration) recently reported that it owns 35% of the approximately 38,000 patents linked to 6
- In Europe, the 6G Flagship project is combining research on 6G technology, which is now centred in Finland’s University of Oolu.
- Japan is investing $482 million to accelerate the adoption of 6G over the next few years. Additionally, this funds will be used to construct a building where researchers can work on wireless projects. By 2025, the country’s general objective is to highlight the most innovative mobile technology.
- Vodafone Germany revealed its intention to create a 6G research site in Dresden in 2021.
- Samsung is working on 6G in South Korea, and sees the technology as particularly promising for advanced technology such as holograms. They are another company that believes the first 6G deployment might occur as early as 2028.
- In Russia, the research institute NIIR and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology produced a 2021 estimate projecting the availability of 6G networks as early as 2035.
- In the United States, the 6G endeavor is more private than public, however the federal government did establish a collaboration with South Korea in 2021 to do 6G research. Several American cell carriers are making headway with their own 6G technologies. Notably, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are collaborating with ATIS to form the Next G Alliance, which will assist organize and advance 6G research across North America. In May 2021, the Next G Alliance launched a technical work program to coordinate the formation of a series of new workgroups dedicated to the development of 6G technology. If the patent statistics are true, the US is currently second behind China with approximately 18% of all 6G patents.
For now, 5G is just getting started, and with at least ten years until the first glimpse of a 6G network appears, let’s take advantage of some of the amazing technology that 5G will bring us before then. With 6G expected in 2030 or later, we’ll have more information as technology advances.
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