6G (sixth-generation wireless) is the successor to 5G cellular technology. 6G networks will be able to use higher frequencies than 5G networks and provide substantially higher capacity and much lower latency. One of the goals of the 6G internet is to support one-microsecond latency communications. This is 1,000 times faster — or 1/1000th the latency — than one-millisecond throughput.
It is important to note that 6G is not yet a functioning technology. While some vendors are investing in the next-generation wireless standard, industry specifications for 6G-enabled network products remain years away.
What are the advantages of 6G vs. 5G networks?
6G networks will operate by using signals at the higher end of the radio spectrum. It is too early to approximate 6G data rates, but Dr. Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam, senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, suggested a theoretical peak data rate of 1 terabyte per second for wireless data may be possible. That estimate applies to data transmitted in short bursts across limited distances. LG, a South Korean company, unveiled this type of technology based on adaptive beamforming in 2021.
When will 6G internet be available?
While some early discussions have taken place to define the technology, 6G research and development (R&D) activities started in earnest in 2020. 6G will require development of advanced mobile communications technologies, such as cognitive and highly secure data networks. It will also require the expansion of spectral bandwidth that is orders of magnitude faster than 5G.
China has launched a 6G test satellite equipped with a terahertz system. Technology giants Huawei Technologies and China Global reportedly plan similar 6G satellite launches in 2021. Many of the problems associated with deploying millimeter wave radio for 5G must be resolved in time for network designers to address the challenges of 6G.
How will 6G networks work?
It’s expected that 6G wireless sensing solutions will selectively use different frequencies to measure absorption and adjust frequencies accordingly. This method is possible because atoms and molecules emit and absorb electromagnetic radiation at characteristic frequencies, and the emission and absorption frequencies are the same for any given substance.
6G will have big implications for many government and industry approaches to public safety and critical asset protection, such as the following:
- threat detection;
- health monitoring;
- feature and facial recognition;
- decision-making in areas like law enforcement and social credit systems;
- air quality measurements;
- gas and toxicity sensing; and
- sensory interfaces that feel like real life.
What is a 7G network and why is it needed?
- deliver a theoretical data rate of about 11 Gbps simultaneously across multiple gigahertz channels;
- deploy up to three 160-megahertz (MHz) bandwidth channels; and
- multiplex up to eight spatial streams.
Compared to 6G, 7G is designed to do the following:
- deliver data up to 46 Gbps — more than four times the rate of 6G projection;
- double the size of the channel to 320 MHz; and
- afford 16 spatial streams, compared to eight in 6G.