With 5G networks still rolling out around the world and many still using 4G and even 3G networks, it seems a bit early to talk about 6G. That said, technology is always advancing and standards take a long time to mature, so we have certainly always been on the road to a 6G world.
We have managed to go from 1G to 5G in a relatively short period of time (40 years), so 6G is the natural progression towards faster and better wireless connectivity.
Ultimately, we’ll have speeds so blazingly fast that no progress bars or timeouts will be needed for any normal amount of data, at least by today’s standards. Everything will be available…instantly.
We explain what this new technology consists of, what advantages it will bring us with respect to 5G and when it will begin to be available, in this report.
What is 6G?
6G is the sixth generation of this wireless technology and is the successor to 5G. It is expected to use higher frequency bands and very fast and simple cloud-based network technology to deliver record speeds and microsecond latency.
As experts imagine, 6G will not only serve mobile phones. It could also be used for technologies such as automated cars and smart home networks (IoT), helping to create seamless connectivity between the Internet and everyday life.
One of the objectives of the 6G Internet is support communications with a latency of one microsecond (this is 1,000 times faster than one millisecond throughput).
It is important to note that 6G is not yet a working technology. Although some providers are investing in this next generation standard.
How will 6G technology work?
It’s hard to know how this new technology will work, but many researchers, experts, and the media describe 6G as a fully integrated, Internet-based system that enables instant communication between consumers, devices, vehicles, and the environment around them.
And it is that, we currently have the Internet of things, smartphones and home devices. In time, we could come to a general, all-encompassing Internet.
Now when the experts talk about 6G There are a number of points where they agree:
1Tbps speeds: could one day enable speeds as high as one terabit per second on an Internet device. To give you a rough idea, this is 1,000 times faster than 1 Gbps, the fastest speed available on most home Internet networks today.
But be careful because it is also 100 times faster than 10 Gbps, the hypothetical maximum speed of 5G.
Researchers predict that 6G will be underpinned by extremely high bandwidth and high reliability. The Internet will be instantly and continuously accessible, available to many of us who make use of thousands of devices in our daily lives.
In 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened the doors to a possible 6G future by allowing companies to begin experimenting with what has been called terahertz waves or submillimeter waves.
These are radio bands that have a higher frequency than millimeter waves, which are the solution to the great network congestion.
The big problem with these millimeter waves is that they only work over short distances. And in a certain way the terahertz one is the same, but if you take advantage of it properly, an even greater capacity can be opened up.
Finally and of course, one of the great protagonists of these years and the future, artificial intelligence. And it is that everything related to this area has been the subject of great debate in the midst of the 5G boom. The arrival of 6G is expected to give the final push for AI to be needed to keep everything coordinated and running smoothly.
Let’s just remember when we talked about the C-ROADS project, in which technology allows vehicles to “talk” to each other and to the infrastructure found on the roads, creating a fully intelligent environment.
What are the differences and advantages of 6G compared to 5G?
5G and 6G have practically entered the market at the same time, yes, in a different way. Just as 5G is being deployed commercially, 6G research and development (R&D) projects are underway.
As for their differences, we can list up to five:
1. 5G and 6G use two different parts of the spectrum: 5G occupies broadband frequencies below 6 gigahertz (GHz) and above 24.25 GHz, called low band and high band, respectively.
6G will operate between 95 GHz and 3 terahertz (THz). At those wavelengths, 6G will offer speeds 1,000 times faster than 5G.
2. 5G makes the internet of things possible but 6G improves and speeds it up: 5G is highly anticipated for precisely this reason (the frequencies used by 4G are too narrow and too crowded). With all this, 6G comes to accelerate everything that 5G brings us.
3. Just as 5G hasn’t replaced 4G, 6G won’t either.: emphasize this aspect again, although seen what has been seen it is to be expected. Many predictions expect that 6G will be reserved for very specific purposes, at least initially, such as business, industrial and even military with the so striking automated drones.
4. 6G will open new frontiers of connectivity that 5G has not achieved: it has had difficulty reaching it due to its infrastructure requirements. Instead, 6G will build on the infrastructure we put in place for 5G and it will improve connectivity, on land, under the sea or even in space.
5. Although both generations have a very low latency, 6G is devastating: to give us an idea, latency is the time that elapses between a stimulus and the response it produces. In 4G we are talking about 50 milliseconds.
With 5G we reached 5 milliseconds and now when moving to 6G we talk about 1 millisecond. This almost instant speed will make massive data transmissions possible.
Do we really need 6G technology?
Although it may seem like something very far away and it really is, it can become very necessary. There are several reasons.
On one hand we have technological convergence. And it is that the continuous technological evolution makes necessary an evolution of these standards in line.
On the other, we have edge computing and the need for its deployment. We are talking about the processing, analysis and storage of data that, by getting closer to where it comes from, the answers are almost in real time. Apparently, that without 6G will not be possible.
Another driving force is the need to support the Internet of Things (IoT), as we have already explained above. So it seems that yes, for an evolution it will be key.
When will 6G technology be available? Are there companies already behind its development?
6G Internet is expected to launch commercially in 2030. Although some initial discussions have been held to define the technology, the 6G research and development process began in earnest in 2020.
Of course, the race towards 6G is attracting the attention of many players in the sector. Test and measurement provider Keysight Technologies has committed to its development. Big companies like LG, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung have pointed out also that they are working on 6G R&D.
The race to reach 5G may end up looking like child’s play when compared to the competition to see which companies and countries will dominate the 6G market and its applications and everything that is generated as a result.
However, let’s go easy. the 6G will require the development of advanced technologies of mobile communications, such as security data networks, and it will also be necessary to expand the spectral bandwidth.
This new age technology is undoubtedly going to give a new dimension to the way we live or communicate, turning the world into a hyperconnected space.