The Evolution and State of 5G Technology as We Transition Towards 6G

The Evolution and State of 5G Technology as We Transition Towards 6G

By Arti Loftus, Special Correspondent  |  December 13, 2019

5G brings the promise of providing hyper-fast speeds of up to three times faster than 4G and unimaginable bandwidth to boot. It is said to deliver extremely reliable and lag-free services, the highly anticipated ability to support substantially scaled communications for an extensive range of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications and enabling new technologies that we have not even thought of, to every industry. With all the hype surrounding 5G, it is no surprise that businesses are looking at what this technology can do for them.

The technology is still in the early stages of deployment, and as it continues to evolve, full-scale adoption has not yet occurred. Building the network and all the necessary infrastructure is a lengthy and expensive process; however, hundreds of billions of dollars have been invested into the initiative by companies worldwide hoping to be known as the first to offer 5Gs new capabilities to their consumers.

Akshay Sharma (News - Alert), a board member to 5G start-up LB-N with Smart City enablement, and a consultant to a significant regulator on 6G specifies “the current state of 5G globally is that there are 46 deployments for 5G worldwide.”

“5G is coming in many flavors over many different spectrum bands, from low-band, mid-range and wide-band 5G, offering different speeds and applications, from fixed wireless access in the mmWave ranges to the more traditional cellular in the low-band 600 MHz ranges, and newer low-latency nano-datacenter applications with Edge Computing coming in on the horizon,” Sharma adds.

With 5G not yet fully established, why are so many people already talking about 6G? 

Claims and predictions are currently being made about what it will offer. "6G technology will provide truly ground-breaking new capabilities, such as wireless sensing and location determination to a very high degree of precision." Says Gerry Christensen, Founder, and CEO of Mind Commerce.

It has been speculated that in the US alone, $3.5 Trillion (News - Alert) can be added to US GDP by 2030 from 5G and 6G services of the future. “Government leaders should understand the new economics and opportunities that the 5G Hybrid Cloud will offer in terms of the realization and the 5G promise for their Smart City and Smart Government initiatives. This will entail revisiting their digital strategy, technology investments, solutions architectures, digital transformation programs, and vendor relationships, ideally with newer startups with a 5G Hybrid Cloud perspectives, while opening the spectrum for 6G.” Explains Sharma.

While 6G is still in the concept stage, there is already plenty of activity. Research and development have already begun in China after the news was announced of plans to roll out 6G networks by 2030 days after their 5G networks became available, they state that it is expected to be up to 100 times faster than 5G. 

Meanwhile, earlier this year, a group of approximately 250 researchers gathered in Lapland, Finland, for one of the world’s first 6G summits to discuss the new wireless standard and to answer the most basic question: What is 6G and why do we need it? The program is designed to run over eight years and is valued at roughly $285 million, which has been jointly funded by public funding and industry partners.

In addition, a 6G technology market report Sixth Generation Cellular: Looking Beyond 5G to the 6G Technology Market identifies the major players in the global 6G market. The study suggests that 6G will have major significance for many governments and industry solutions that are being built around public safety, threat detection, health monitoring, and facial recognition, to name a few. 6G will play a crucial part in communications and the gathering of data that will be necessary for data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and next-generation computing capabilities through High-Performance Computing (HPC) and quantum computing.

“While 6G is still in its infancy from a standardization perspective, it is anticipated that it will provide less than one-millisecond latency, terabyte per second speeds, likely over the Terahertz spectrum bands, from 95 GHz to 3 THz. This will be enhanced with Quantum (News - Alert) Computing and Neuromorphic Computing.” Says Sharma.

"Next-generation 6G apps such as sensing, imaging, and location determination will generate enormous amounts of data, which will drive the need for greater availability of High-Performance Computing (HPC). We see growth in HPC hitting a major inflection point higher as 6G technology market is deployed and begins to be used for gathering data about the environment and the interactions of objects within the environment" Says Christensen. "6G will transform the relationship between service provider and user in many ways as receiver/transmitters will be found in MANY very unconventional places."

“6G services will include holistic trusted applications, immersive gaming, and video applications, and newer sentient robotic applications. While 6G is a 2030-2040 concept, we are at the cusp of a 5G evolution from the 4G LTE-perspective of it running over newer spectrum including WiFi (News - Alert), and a revolution in the telecommunications industry with a number of factors that could shake its foundations.” Sharma advises on transitioning to 6G.

From this, we can see that the promise of gigabit broadband, massive machine connectivity, millisecond latency, Edge Computing, and emerging services will mesh public and private networks across licensed and unlicensed spectrums into a new converged IT/CT infrastructure. Newer Industry 4.0 applications are also on the horizon like industrial IoT applications, autonomous driving robotic vehicles, and unique AR, VR, and Mixed Reality devices.

Some may think that all this talk about 6G is nonsensical as we are still in the early days of 5G devices, services, and network rollouts, with many challenges yet to overcome. However, there is a lot of work being done to evolve and enhance 5G standards and networks. The adoption of 5G capabilities is going to require new devices and infrastructure that is designed to support 5G, which will take time. 6G may be decades away; however, 5G is something that we should keep an eye on over the next few years as the technology begins to replace 4G networks.

Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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