5G is not yet fully rolled out globally. However, the EU has already begun to prepare for the next generation of mobile communication technology, the 6G standard. As early as January 1, the European Union had launched the Hexa-X project as a symbolic start. And Huawei is already leading the world in 6G research and development. What exactly is 6G? How is it different from 5G?
While what we know about 6G is still theoretical, it will certainly be an extension of current 5G networks. 6G can extend cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and automation to newer models and systems.
The first wireless transmission in history occurred in 1895. Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi used radio waves to wirelessly transmit more than 3.4 kilometers of Morse code. Nearly a century later, in 1973, the first wireless phone came out, called the 0G phone. This is a critical moment for wireless communications.
The first generation of “1G” mobile networks was developed on the heels of this invention by Motorola engineer Martin Cooper. It has a bandwidth of 30kHz, a speed of 2.4Kbps, and only allows voice calls. Although 1G had poor voice quality and limited capacity, 1G was used until 1991.
After 1G, 2G phones came on the market in the 1990s, allowing users to send text messages, email, and even browse the Internet at lower speeds. It offers bandwidths from 30kHz to 200kHz, with ever-increasing speeds reaching 384Kbps.
Wireless technology has come a long way since then, and basically every decade sees a new generation of products. 3G is an extension of 2G, with 50 times faster speeds and support for video calls and Internet-based applications. Then there’s 4G, which is 50 to 500 times faster than 3G, with lower latency and HD video.
Now with 5G with a top speed of 20Gbps, Qualcomm claims 5G will benefit IoT integration, automation and augmented reality (XR). Ultimately, 6G will surpass 5G — possibly even accomplishing unimaginable technological feats. Now let’s take a closer look at what 6G is and the potential benefits it offers.
What is 6G?
6G will serve as the sixth generation of wireless communications, potentially replacing 5G wireless technology that has yet to be developed in many countries. 6G uses ultra-high frequency (THF) waves, also known as submillimeter waves, which are 100 times faster than 5G — 5G uses millimeter waves (mmWave).
With 6G technology, latency can reach less than a microsecond as bandwidth increases to accommodate enhanced connectivity. In other words, this next-generation technology will bridge the gap between the digital world and the real world.
In addition to temporarily undetectable speeds and microsecond-level latency, 6G is expected to achieve high reliability and support massive real-time data processing, thereby further advancing the application of big data.
It will be the product of a combination of advances in wireless communications and other technologies such as sensing, imaging, display, and artificial intelligence. In addition to optimizing automation technology, here are some of the advances that can be made with next-generation terahertz wireless technology.
Augmented Reality (XR)
Augmented Reality (XR) is a term that covers Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). XR will open new doors in various fields including entertainment, medicine, science, education and manufacturing.
The concept became popular when 5G arrived, but due to current hardware limitations and lack of wireless capabilities, 5G will not be able to support XR. That’s where 6G can make up for it. The hardware involved is expected to be available when 6G rolls out, and combining the two should make XR a reality.
Advances in high-resolution rendering, wearable displays (Google Glass…), and ultra-fast wireless networks will allow mobile devices to display holograms. Holographic displays require the high data transfer rates offered by 6G.
A digital clone is a virtual copy of a real physical one. Through digital twins, users will be able to observe, track and explore real entities in a virtual environment without the constraints of space and time.
Through the combination of XR and holographic displays, users can go beyond line of sight and interact with the aforementioned digital twin. Through robot integration and digital cloning, users can realistically move the robot in the real world through digital virtual reality that controls the robot.
While it’s hard to explain all this with the current novelty of the technology, digital cloning in the future will pave the way for breakthroughs in various fields.
What challenges will 6G need to overcome?
6G will change the way we perceive information, communicate with people and machines, and experience life. To achieve all of this and more, it will require a huge breakthrough in mobile hardware and computing power and expanded network performance compared to 5G.
The biggest challenge for 6G is to resist atmospheric absorption and dissipation of terahertz waves. Existing 5G networks also suffer from this problem – in practice, the signal is lost when blocked by trees or buildings.
6G and Sustainability
As climate change becomes an increasingly complex global issue, achieving sustainable development is critical. Therefore, 6G should do better than the existing 5G technology in terms of energy saving and carbon reduction.
6G is expected to play an important role in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and virtualization will enable sustainable production and consumption of energy resources.
6G: Will the future in science fiction actually appear?
Although 6G still has many challenges to overcome, and it is impossible to complete commercialization in a short time, the benefits it can bring are too revolutionary.
In the future, 6G will add a whole new dimension to existing emerging technologies such as cloud gaming, cloud storage, VR, and AR. More importantly, it will help pioneer new technologies such as XR, hologram displays and digital cloning — an inevitable step towards the wireless technology of the future.