Smartphone manufacturers have only recently started advertising 5G connectivity on their phones. Companies like Apple and Samsung first introduced 5G compatibility on their premium flagships, then extended it to the entire range of their new generation phones. Smartphone users have just started adapting to 5G technology, but telecom companies are already working on the next big thing.
There have been a lot of rumors flying around about 6G. This successor to 5G doesn’t exist yet but is definitely in the works and the proof is in Austin, Texas. Wireless researchers have launched a research center called 6G@UT to start studying how 6G implementation would work. Samsung and Qualcomm have partnered up with this University of Texas project and are promising fast results.
On the other hand, work on optimizing 5G is still going on. The 2021 Mobile World Congress brought wireless researchers together to discuss the birth of 5G Advanced, a form of 5G that promises to deliver even faster speeds than the existing version. What’s more, this year’s conference brought the spotlight to 6G, with the FCC Chairwoman discussing how to roll it out eventually.
So, is 6G a real thing? And when should we expect to see it around us? Before we try to answer these questions, let’s take a look at what 6G technology actually is.
What is 6G?
6G is essentially a newer iteration of the 5G network. It will have high-frequency bands and cloud-based tech that will provide speedy access to the Internet. The best part is that 6G tech won’t be limited to smartphones. The new network will be integrated into things like automated vehicles and smart home systems too.
It promises to be the next big thing in telecommunications. 6G will step up on the speeds provided by current 5G networks by up 50 times. These numbers are unbelievable especially when you consider that an average data rate for users on 6G will be around 1000 Gbps, according to Statista. Practically, this means that the Internet experience will change drastically for the everyday user and businesses, giving them insanely high speeds.
However, experts expect that with the advancement of 5G, users will eventually be able to enjoy lightning speeds as fast as 10,000 Mbps. This would mean that once 6G does launch, it will provide even higher Internet connectivity with little to no latency. The current predictions aren’t super accurate considering how little work has been done on practical implications.
Key Features of 6G
Although it is quite early to list the key features of 6G, still the guesswork has been done by many experts. So, some of the expected key features of 6G are as follows:
- A speed of 1000 Gbps or 1 TBps
- Frequencies of 100 GHz or even higher
- Energy-efficient communication
- Latency reduced to only a few microseconds
- More number of connected devices (10 million per km2)
There is a lot more to expect from the 6G, so more features will pop up as the research work continues.
6G: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
All new tech has its unique advantages and disadvantages. Information around 6G is also varying depending on who you talk to. However, below are some of the good and bad aspects of 6G:
Advantages of 6G
Here’s how 6G promises to step up the wireless game:
- 6G technology will apparently support a lot more mobile connections than the networks before it. The average user will enjoy a fast connection and zero interference from other devices. This means streamlined service and smooth access to the network.
- There will be an unprecedented boost to wireless speeds with 6G. The average data rate will skyrocket but will only be accessible on devices that use the mmWave spectrum. Once these smartphones are created, users will enjoy lightning-fast speeds all from the palm of their hands.
- One of the irksome things about 4G or 5G connectivity is the amount of area they cover. However, this won’t be a problem with 6G. 6G networks will cover large tracts of land, meaning your connection won’t slow down even if you live in an area with bad weather or lots of trees.
- There will be innovative breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence with the advent of 6G. Experts believe that the 6G implementation will help automated vehicles communicate with each other. Moreover, it will make it easier for people to access the metaverse and optimize edge computing.
Disadvantages of 6G
Here are some potential issues that 6G can bring with it:
- There might be a substantial learning curve that comes with implementing 6G. This doesn’t really apply to smartphone users but it does to telecom providers across the world. New tech can be tricky to learn because it comes with its own Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and these can be hard to communicate on a global level.
- Devices that support 6G will be more expensive than the ones we buy today. New tech requires advanced features, all of which will cost customers a lot more of their hard-earned money.
- The 6G rollout might also bring some compatibility issues as people on older devices won’t be able to access the network. This will be worse in developing countries where transitioning to a new network takes even longer than it does in the first world.
When to Expect 6G in the Market?
It is not clear currently how long it will take for 6G to hit the market. Pekka Lundmark, Nokia CEO, expects that the 6G network will be in the market by 2030. There is a lot of testing that remains to be done, along with international cooperation. There is a possibility that different countries might undertake 6G development on their own, creating problematic situations for the average consumer. This could also mean that smartphone users, like in Japan, won’t be able to connect to 6G if they travel to another country.
The Final Verdict
6G sounds like an exciting breakthrough but experts have warned to take this news with a pinch of salt for now. This is because even though 5G is technically in popular use, a lot of telecom companies haven’t implemented it because they failed to meet certain international benchmarks. Most companies offer something called 4G LTE, advertising it as faster 4G but not quite 5G.
What’s more, wireless researchers estimated that 4G would achieve speeds up to 100-1000 Mbps, but that fell through, as average speeds on 4G networks rarely cross 40 Mbps. It’s evident that wireless technology does not evolve as quickly as people think it does.
The final verdict is to keep your hopes up because 6G is on its way to becoming a reality. However, it won’t be implemented on a wide scale anytime soon.