Cellular communications, a form of communication technology that enables communication via mobile phones, have been having an impact on our lives since the 1980s. There have been many generations of cellular communications over the years. Once in 10 ten years, a new generation comes into the telecommunication field. The recent generation is the 5G, that is, the fifth generation of cellular communications. While 5G is pretty much still in its research and development stage, companies have started working on 6G, the sixth generation of cellular communications.
What is 6G Network? How fast Sixth Generation Network will be?
6G, the successor of the 5G network, built with 5G as its foundation, will consume higher frequencies to increase the capacity of data transmission with very low latencies. Since 6G is in a conceptual stage, we are yet to know about its full potential and what it has to offer to society. From a theoretical standpoint, 6G could support micro-latency communication, which is 1000x faster than one-millisecond throughput.
Scope of 6G telecommunication technology
Of late, with the increase in IoT-driven technologies like smart homes, smart cities and smart buildings, there is a demand for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. 6G could provide solutions to this increasing demand towards M2M connectivity including robotic and autonomous drone delivery systems and transport systems. Though the outburst of Covid-19 has pushed companies to adopt drone-based delivery systems for safety purposes, this method has been difficult to be adopted in rural areas due to a lack of consistent connectivity. 6G could address this issue as it is focused on providing connectivity to every nook and corner of the planet.
6G would play a major role in various other fields and technologies such as the internet of everything (IoE), reconfigurable hardware, enhanced optical wireless interface, intelligent networking and technologies that can improve user experience like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
As mentioned above, 6G will be the solution for global connectivity with higher capacities and consistent connectivity and will pave the way for improvised internet services and applications.
Market predictions of 6G (2025-2030)
The current modern world we live in is shifting towards a smart-society. A smart-society includes a smart-city with effective use of digital and telecommunication technologies to bring out noticeable changes in peoples’ lives as well as in the business world. It is predicted that 6G would be an integral part of the evolution of smart city-related applications, communication and commerce by 2030.
According to research, identity management and authentication will be the two essential components for 6G mesh networking. Teleoperations, telerobotics and industrial automation will be the three major areas where 6G will be widely adopted. With embedded device AI in 6G networks, ambient intelligence will experience a breakthrough.
Benefits and uses of 6G in various industries
Lower latency and increased performance
While 5G is expected to reduce latency to 1 millisecond, 6G is expected to reduce latency to less than 0.1 milliseconds. This ultra-low latency will exponentially increase the performance and functionality of many real-time applications. The low latency can also enable emergency responses, remote surgery and industrial automation.
In terms of data rates, 5G is expected to offer a 20 Gbps data peak rate with a 100 Mbps user-experienced data rate. Whilst, 6G is expected to deliver 1000 Gbps peak data rate and 1 Gbps of user experienced data rate. This increases the spectral efficiency of 6G to be more than 2 times greater than that of 5G. The enhanced spectral efficiency will enable a large number of users to access advanced multimedia services simultaneously. Moreover, 6G can make time-sensitive applications function flawlessly by making the network multiple times reliable than 5G.
Reliability and accuracy
As mentioned earlier, 6G is majorly focused on providing global connectivity. That is, to provide internet connectivity across every corner of the world. 6G will increase the speed of mobile devices to 10 devices per square kilometer. The higher the density of connection, the higher will be the number of devices that interact with each other in real-time. With 6G, M2M interaction can be immensely improved as the network could be 100 times more reliable and the error rates could be reduced to 10 times.
With consistent and reliable connectivity, 6G can allow users to access multiple advanced services easily and instantly in real-time. Consuming high-end services could drain the battery off. Hence, 6G will also be focused on reducing battery consumption by 2 times. Additionally, considering environmental sustainability, the network will be built to function efficiently without consuming a lot of energy and increases the telecommunication efficiency by 2 times compared to 5G.
Autonomous and trustworthy system
An autonomous system will have the capabilities to adapt itself to the changing environment. This is achieved by constantly observing and learning from previous actions. The data collected as the result of observation and learning is fed back into the system in real-time to improve its configuration, software and process. By doing this, the algorithms that enable the machine to make decisions keep constantly improving across the physical and logical elements of the system.
To enable such an autonomous process, the systems need to have a constant and reliable connection. 6G could very well ensure that the system has sufficient full-time connectivity. The constant improvement of the system makes it more dynamic than the already existing AI and ML-based systems.
The widespread adoption of autonomous systems is possible only if the system is reliable. For humans to trust the machine or the system, the system should be able to explain its actions and reasons to conclude. Apart from this, the system should respect all the applicable laws and regulations and value the right principles and values. The system must also allow humans to intervene when necessary.
Autonomous systems or AI-based systems are capable of making decisions based on the data or facts that it collects. With the availability of huge amounts of data, better decisions can be made. Hence a data-based architecture could be a better infrastructure for AI machines to make decisions. These infrastructures would help the data pipelines to format the data into a form that is best suited for the customer of the data pipeline by moving, storing, processing and visualizing the data that is provided by the service provider and external sources. Given the capabilities of 6G, all these massive amounts of data collection and data processing could be done seamlessly.
Challenges in developing and implementing 6G network
6G has so many advantages over the earlier generations of cellular communication. But there are some theoretical challenges associated with developing and implementing 6G as the technology is still in its conceptual stage. Some of the theoretical challenges are mentioned below.
6G uses terahertz (THz) enabled wireless communication systems that could help in achieving low latency. But utilizing THz frequencies has its own associated disadvantages. The frequency range of terahertz ranges between 0.1 to 10 THz EM (electromagnetic) waves with a wavelength of 30 to 300 micrometers. These frequencies are usually used for space communication. Especially between satellites. Hence the major disadvantage of using THz frequencies in 6G is that they are very sensitive to shadow. This will affect the coverage on a large scale. Additionally, while designing low-power and cost-efficient 6G devices, processing power is considered to be a significant challenge.
6G also uses visible light frequencies for its ability to support huge bandwidth and operate at THz frequencies. The wavelength of visible light ranges from 390-700 nanometer. The challenges associated with enabling visible light frequencies are that it has a short coverage range, difficult to be integrated with WiFi systems and sensitive to atmospheric absorption, shadows and beam dispersion.
Since 6G is focused on providing global connectivity, a large number of endpoints and networking equipment must be managed using 6G systems that are efficient and consume less energy. Designing such systems is very challenging and hence energy harvesting strategies have to be adopted to satisfy this requirement.
Major companies that contribute towards the development of 6G
Many companies are working towards figuring out the whole potential that 5G has to offer through constant research and development. Meanwhile, some companies focused on developing the concept of 6G and how it can be improvised from 5G. Major companies that contribute towards developing this technology are Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia. All these companies have employed skillful experts in the field of telecommunication and have set up research centers to bring the best out of 6G technology.
Career Opportunities based on 6G
Since 6G is a part of telecommunication networks, any job role that is associated with the telecommunication field would be beneficial on 6G or upcoming telecommunication technologies. Some of these job roles include:
- Network engineer
- Research (Telecom)
- Telecom sales engineer
- Telecommunication engineer
- Software engineer
- Data analyst
- Solution architect
When will 6G Arrive in the US, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and other parts of the world?
Following the mandatory 10 year gap with the development and implementation between each generation of cellular communication, 6G technology is said to be brought into the world for consumption and adoption by end-users by the year 2030. Apart from connectivity, 6G would become a reliable platform for data manipulation and computation. 6G will also be capable of actively supporting innovations and will become an essential part of developing a modern society.