Will 6G Erase 5G?
Just as 4G and 5G will coexist for some time (they share the same core network), it is likely that 6G and 5G will work together for some time. 2040 is the common target that most experts mention. Traditionally, each new wireless generation was about 10-15 years apart. Thus, development of 5G technology still has a long way to go and the UK's 6G Innovation Center believes 5G has around a 20-year lifespan, putting that technology rollout around ... 2040.
So, what is 6G? How is it different or better that the amazing benefits of 5G that we are anticipating anytime now(2020)? Who is the leading researcher/manufacturer/SME or expert on this technology? So many questions...what do I really need to know for now?
Let's start here. What is 6G? In a world of immediate gratification we know that it's all about less buffering, NO roaming and instant connectivity for upload and/or downloads. According to Tech-Radar website, it's all about speed. 6G or 6th generation wireless technology is faster speeds, greater capacity, and lower latency that frees applications from the constraints of local processing power. It connects more devices to the network, and blur the lines between the physical, human and digital worlds. Existing services will be transformed but 6G could be the network that finally delivers use cases from the realms of science fiction.
We were promised super fast speeds (gigahertz) with 5G what type of speeds are to expect with 6G? Terabit speeds will inevitably make Netflix a more enjoyable experience and Zoom calls/conferences less painful, but ubiquitous coverage and more connected ‘things’ will change the way we interact with technology – and potentially the world itself. 6G will build on this foundation and introduce new capabilities far beyond the limits of 5G. This leads me to believe that the surge that 5G is touted to enhance requiring IoT (internet of things) equipment, may be still in the starting blocks until the newest technology, 6G arrives on the scene. (May as well use the payphone for now)
Advanced technology like the Internet of Things (IoT) will expand and become more advanced, providing applications
with more data and more capabilities. One of it's many benefits is helping to facilitate automotive communication or V2V. One may realize not only vehicle to vehicle communication but V2X or vehicle to everything communication. This is highly advanced and will require continued discovery. Yet, with the advancements of real-time AI transforming our activities with robotics, the "sky" has now become a gateway to what some would call "limits." With the extension of 6G coverage to the seas and skies this could aid in connecting maritime, aviation and even space applications.
Will the wireless coverage be improved over what we have today?
In terms of coverage, 6G could become ubiquitous. 6G satellite technology and intelligent surfaces capable of reflecting electromagnetic signals will deliver low latency, multi-gigabit connectivity to parts of the world where it has been too difficult or too expensive to reach with conventional mobile networks. Remote parts of the globe, the skies, and the oceans could all be connected.
While 5G already harnesses AI for optimization, dynamic resource allocation, and for data processing, extreme-low latency of less than one millisecond and distributed architecture means 6G will be able to deliver ubiquitous, integrated intelligence. Indeed, this seems to align with the long term plan that Japan is working on called Society 5.0.
6G will enable location and context-aware digital services, as well as sensory experiences such as truly immersive extended reality (XR) and high-fidelity holograms. Instead of Zoom calls, it will be possible to speak to people in real time in VR, using wearable sensors, so users have the physical sensation of being in the same room together. 6G will use more advanced radio equipment and a greater volume and diversity of airwaves than 5G, including the use of Extreme High Frequency (EHF) spectrum that delivers ultra-high speeds and huge capacity over short distances.
Sounds like we have a while before seeing any new 6G displays pop up on our phone. So with all this talk, are there real use cases being explored with this next-gen technology? Who is leading the charge? There are a number of privately and publicly funded research projects taking place around the world, one of the most notable of which is the ‘6Genesis’ project in Oulu, Northern Finland – a location that has long been associated with the developments of mobile networks. And of course the leading country for tech now has launched 6G satellites into space to do some testing. China’s research efforts will certainly be center to the conversation for years to come. Samsung and Nokia are reported to be leading efforts in South Korea and Europe. The UK’s principal project is at the 6G Innovation Centre (6GIC) at the University of Surrey.
We see that 6G is certainly the topic that is starting to find it's way into mainstream telecom conversation. As we are showered with promises of the incredible 5G wireless technology, I think all we really want to know is when will we be able to download a movie in 5 seconds. Stay tuned because there's so much more to come.
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