Is 6G Coming? What Is The Latest Research? How fast will 6G be?
Communication technology has had a massive evolution for decades, from basic telephones to cellular, to mobiles, to high-quality audio transmission, and now to 5G and, what’s more, 6G.
“It’s a little too early to talk about 6G.”
Is 6G real?
Yes and no. Yes, 6G (or whatever it’s eventually called) will eventually replace 5G, but 6G is not yet a functioning technology, and is instead in the early research phase. Mobile telecom companies are much too focused on 5G to deal with 6G in any significant way. Although early research projects have begun thanks to funding from governments that want to gain an edge.
What is the recent 6G research and conclusion?
According to a recent paper published by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the expected possibility and communications at 6G frequency are much more versatile than discussed earlier. It was as if you were digging for a piece of treasure and found an entire gold field beneath the surface.
The research team included Professor Andy Molisch from USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Los Angeles, with experts from Lund University, Sweden, New Zealand Telecom, King’s College, London, and several Ph.D., master, and undergraduate students.
The procedure consisted of a series of specific measurements of different 6G frequencies, referred to as the Terahertz band. Post these tests, researchers have claimed that how signal transmission can take place is very limited as we move up into 6G frequencies. Thus, these collaborative tests and results are great incentives in 6G research.
Frequencies become harder to manage and are prone to interruptions in signal transmission at higher frequencies. Nevertheless, the researchers are pleased with the first test results and aim to reach sound conclusions and face challenges in the future.
Currently, the team is working on developing algorithms that will allow processing at different bandwidth levels. Further, new hardware capable of functioning in a new zone is also under research.
What to expect from 6G that would be any different
“One thing is clear: 6G is going to be an amalgam of complementary technologies, coming to deliver new sets of use cases and values,” remarked Stephen Douglas, head of 5G/6G strategy for UK-based network engineering firm Spirent Communications. On Douglas’ list: highly directional, “pencil-beam” antennas that receive terahertz-level frequencies for vastly greater data rates; transmitters whose capability of sensing the environments in their respective vicinities could enable sub-centimeter global radar; and wireless sensors implanted on users’ bodies, for what he calls body-area networks (BAN).
How fast will 6G be?
We don’t know how fast 6G will be yet, but estimates have it around 100 times faster than 5G. The final standards that will define what a 6G connection is will probably be down to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU recently nailed down the standards for 5G (which it refers to as IMT-2020) after more than eight years of work, and is expected to start a similar process for 6G soon.
That hasn’t stopped experts guessing how fast 6G will be. One of the most often quoted is from Dr. Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam from the University of Sydney, who claims 6G could deliver mind-boggling speeds of 1TB per second, or 8,000 gigabits per second. Forget one movie downloading in a few seconds from Netflix with 5G, with 6G speeds like that, in just one second you could download 142 hours of Netflix movies.
As for the ITU, it hasn’t published much on 6G yet. In May 2019 it talked about IMT-2030, which it describes as a hybrid network and an upgrade to 5G. Rather than a new network entirely, which we expect 6G to be.
Who is working on it?
The race to 6G will draw the attention of many industry constituents, such as major test and measurement vendor Keysight Technologies who has also indicated a commitment to its development. This may very well make the race to reach 5G look minor compared to the wait to see which countries can dominate the 6G technology market and its related applications, services and solutions.
- The University of Oulu in Finland is committed to a 6G research initiative referred to as 6Genesis. The project will be conducted for the next eight years and will develop a vision for 2037.
- South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute is conducting research on the Terahertz frequency band for 6G and envisions data speeds 100 times faster than 4G LTE networks and 5 times faster than 5G networks.
- The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in China is directly investing and monitoring the research and development process.
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