Although soon after the emergence of 5G, tech companies are already preemptively preparing for the next generation of wireless technology, namely 6G. What exactly does this imply? How will it work?
Before we get to the juicy stuff, we need to clarify something: at the time of writing this article, 6G is far from being properly tested or implemented. Reports that China launched the “first 6G satelliteAs of November 2020 are not false but tend to be a bit sensational in the whole of the event.
Yes, China launched a terahertz capable test bed satellite into space, but that only tested part of the 6G technology.
What is 6G?
If it’s not already obvious, 6G is the sixth generation of wireless communication technology. It’s not set in stone yet, but the standard promises to establish a more ubiquitous and reliable Internet presence on all cellular networks. To get to the heart of the matter, we’ll need to explain what sets this standard apart from its better-known predecessors.
We call this new standard “6G” and not “Faster 5G” or “Enhanced 5G” because there is a difference in how each standard is applied by hardware manufacturers. A 6G transceiver box that provides communication services to another device will not have enough similarities in its internal components to participate in the same generation as its predecessor.
Put simply, the requirements 6G is supposed to meet will force manufacturers to completely rethink their product’s communications suites to work within these parameters. It was the same reason 5G became something “different” rather than just being seen as an upgraded version of 4G LTE.
What 6G promises
At this point, no standard has been fully established, but telecom companies around the world are already speculating on what 6G might offer. At the moment, it appears that this technology could deliver bandwidth of around 95 Gbps, providing a powerful platform for a multitude of devices to transmit and receive data with low latency and high reliability.
In essence, 6G seeks to build on the powerful capabilities 5G already offers for the “Internet of Things” ecosystem. People who casually watch YouTube while strolling the sidewalk won’t notice much of a difference, as older generations of communications technology already cover the necessary bandwidth.
The real difference will come when there is a huge potential for network congestion in an area. Bigger pipes allow large volumes to flow more easily!
In short, since 5G (and to a large extent even 4G LTE) covers the vast majority of the mobile needs of our current society, 6G is just telecom operators anticipating new developments in consumer technologies. and professional that will require even more space to breathe.
It’s not just the hardware!
In addition to changing the way transceiver boxes are made, 6G will also change the entire infrastructure of a local cellular network. Typically, an increase in transmission rate requires a tighter distribution of cells.
Ultimately, all of this fancy talk about new standards comes down to different ways of using the radio spectrum to turn airwaves into data and vice versa. Each new generation uses a higher frequency of the spectrum while sacrificing wavelength. Having to make this sacrifice means the cellular operator will face range issues.
Each generation of cellular technology using shorter wavelength signals is forcing manufacturers and network providers to face new infrastructure challenges. 6G is no different.
It’s not just the devices that will have to change – that’s it. And we’re not even done with 5G yet.
Trouble in paradise
To truly understand the magnitude of the stresses our cellular networks are under, we’ll need to go back and compare 5G to 4G.
A typical 4G LTE network transceiver can serve its local cell up to about 10 miles. This means that if you are setting up a network with the intention of keeping your customers in a transparent 4G “bubble”, you should make sure you configure it so that no one is more than 10 miles from one of your powerful antennas. .
If you want to expand your network to 5G, you will need to reduce those 10 miles to 1,000 feet with the same amount of power. It is not impossible, but the proposal becomes more expensive and intrusive on the existing urban infrastructure.
6G will find it very difficult to get off the drawing board and be applied in practice if it is to cover entire areas of a city with transceivers.
The road ahead
While it is clear that 6G technology must overcome several challenges, not the least of which is the heavy infrastructure required to make it work, it is no exaggeration to believe that telecom providers will prepare to compete for be the first to implement it in many communities.
All signs point to 6G becoming a reality in 2030, but speculation cannot take us as far as our imagination. The reality is that it will be some time before the technology is actually tested and implemented at a scale suitable for consumption. In the meantime, 5G still has a long way to go before it becomes as ubiquitous as its predecessor.
Right now, you might be better off worrying about what the different 5G icons mean on an iPhone and when 5G will hit your region rather than worrying about 6G.
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