6G Technology and What it has to Offer

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Ever since its inception, mobile communication technology has transformed the human lifestyle. It has become an inseparable part of people throughout the globe. It enables one to be constantly in touch with family, loved ones, business associates, etcetera not only via wireless communication but also through various channels using mobile internet.

The next generation of the telecommunication network technology, the 6G, is already in its initial research phase. You must be thinking should we be discussing 6G when the 5G deployment is still in its beginning phase. But why not? The earliest research on the 6th generation of networks is promising exciting upgrades and features, and hence, this is just the right time to understand what it has in store for us.

“It all started way back in 1983 when the first generation (popularly called 1G) network was commercially launched in the USA by Ameritech in Chicago. It was also the first time a hand-held mobile phone, a device invented by Martin Cooper and manufactured by Motorola, was introduced.”

From the day in 1983 when the 1G communication network was introduced, mobile communication technology has come a long way with high-quality network reception and reliable wireless communication. Modern cell phone networks give access to one of the most powerful tools of the 21st century, the internet. They also incorporate advanced technologies like GPS, which is an important tool not only for guiding you to your desired location but also for finding the location of the cell phone or its owner in an event of an emergency.

“A Datareportal report claims that more than 4.57 billion people around the globe use the internet, of which about 91 percent are using mobile devices for their online activities.”

The increasing network speeds of modern cellular communication technologies are a big driving force behind such a large number of mobile internet users. These stats are also an indicator of the increasing reliability of internet access via the mobile network.

What is 6G?

6G or sixth-generation is the next generation of cellular network technology. It is the successor to the currently under-deployment 5G network. It is the next big step in the mobile connectivity world, being developed with the integration of the latest technologies including but not limited to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automation, Extended Reality (XR), Robotics, etcetera. It is expected to utilize higher network frequencies compared to the 5G network to provide significantly higher network capacity and comparatively lower latency.

“The white paper on 5G evolution and 6G by NTT DoCoMo claims the possibility of cyberspace supporting live human actions and thoughts via small devices mounted on human bodies as well as smart wearable devices. It is believed to convert Sci-Fi to science facts. The paper further reported that speeds more than 100 Gbps, coupled with modern contact lenses and smart glasses, would enable sensory interfaces to look perfectly real. The paper also talks about prioritizing power efficiency for OTA charging. It also mentions the coverage that can be made available across seas and even into outer space.”

What to look forward to in 6G?

While the fifth-generation (5G) cellular network is being deployed in various parts of the world, it is interesting to see what the sixth-generation has to offer. The 6G is expected to acknowledge the importance of data in modern times and hence, is believed to have a vision for a data-driven world, offering prompt access to limitless wireless connectivity. It is also expected to bring vertical-specific network solutions and machine type communication for achieving mission-critical as well as massive connectivity aspects.

The following are some of the major expectations from 6G:

  • The 6G network is anticipated to support higher data rates of about 1 Tbps (terabyte per second). The expected level of capacity and latency, if achieved, will be out of the ordinary. It will further expand the scope of capabilities, supporting novel, innovative tools across the wireless connectivity and cognition domain. The higher frequencies of the 6G network will further lead to noteworthy improvements in sampling rates for superior throughput.

“For a routine internet user dreaming about downloading a movie within seconds with 5G, it is epoch-making that with the anticipated speeds of 6G he/she will be able to download about 142 hours of Netflix content in just one second.”

  • One of the primary goals of the sixth-generation network is to achieve one-microsecond latency from the existing quarter of a millisecond (¼ millisecond) latency of a mmWave 5G signal. Network latency is the time a signal takes to travel from your cellular device to a network tower. If 6G is able to achieve the target of a microsecond latency, it will enhance the network speeds by up to 1000 times, enabling smoother and faster communications.
  • The technology is believed to facilitate significant improvements in imaging, location awareness, and presence technology which in conjunction with AI, will enable the network’s computational infrastructure to autonomously discover the finest location for computing to take place.
  • Industry experts expect 6G to have more involvement in government solutions in public safety including health monitoring, threat detection, air quality measurements, facial recognition, gas and toxicity sensing, etcetera.
  • Emerging technologies like smart-cities, autonomous vehicles, and virtual reality are expected to get a significant enhancement through the sixth-generation cellular network technology. Moreover, 6G is believed to realize the dream of sci-fi applications that may facilitate the integration of human brains and modern computers.
  • The next generation of the telecommunication network is also believed to integrate a group of formerly disparate technologies like big data analytics and deep learning. These technologies are already converging with the advent of 5G but will witness a different unity altogether with 6G.

There are no specific standards set for the 6G yet, but in order to achieve the aforementioned features, the cellular network technology will have to make use of some of the most sophisticated networking concepts and technologies like terahertz frequency, evolution in duplex technology and network topology, improved antenna technology, comprehensive AI, spectrum sharing, high precision network, and split computing. 

When to expect the sixth-generation cellular network?

Even though it is a bit too early to predict when exactly will the 6G network technology be deployed for common users, we can surely take the help of the past mobile connection technology evolution data to make a safe estimation about its arrival.

Looking at the relatively steady pace at which various cellular technologies have been commercially introduced in the past, we can expect the sixth-generation to be launched by 2030. The third-generation was introduced in the early 2000s, 4G in 2010, and 5G is now being deployed in 2020. Considering this pace, it is reasonable to anticipate the launch of 6G by 2030.

The Bottom Line

Cellular network technologies have been growing generations after generations, bringing in new advancements in the world of mobile communication technologies. Each of the previous generations has surpassed its predecessor in terms of data rate, network bandwidth, and connection speeds, making the network latency as least as possible. The 6G is also expected to outperform its predecessor with huge margins. That said, we also can’t deny the existing challenges that the sixth-generation technology will have to grapple with in order to attain its expected performance. With expectations like terabytes per second speed, microsecond latency, terahertz signal transmission, AI core networking, AI-powered network management, industry and use case-driven standardization, experiential networking, and short-range communication etcetera, the 6G is certainly one of the most exciting technologies to look forward to.

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