What is 6G? Everything you need to know

Wireless Internet has been available to so many of us for so long that we don’t even consider how much our world revolves around and relies on it. Well, maybe except for those times we enter an area without coverage, and all of a sudden find ourselves channeling the same energy of a teenager in a tantrum.

Things started out — contrary to what you might expect — with 2G (second generation) all the way back in 1991, which was then followed by 3G in 2001, 4G in 2009, and 5G in 2018. In fact, generally speaking, despite being already introduced 3-4 years ago, 5G is yet to be made widely available and completely utilized to its full potential.

So, why are we even talking about 6G when not even the latest generation has been completely developed and adopted, you might ask? Well, first of all, we tend to get excited about nerdy topics such as this here at PhoneArena, especially when it is related to phones.

More importantly, however, companies like Samsung, Huawei, and Nokia have already stated that they have organized teams with the sole purpose of researching 6G and making it a reality. In other words, 6G would very likely arrive sooner or later, and it is fun to try and catch a glimpse into the future.

So, with this out of the way, dive in with us, and let’s find out what one of the biggest advancements in the world of mobile technology — wireless internet — might look like in a few years.

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What is 6G?

In the simplest of terms, 6G refers to the next generation of wireless internet, or “6th generation,” if you will. However, the possibilities that 6G might entail could undoubtedly make it a much more complex and meaningful jump than just a faster internet connection — reducing it to that would be an understatement.

Now, technically 6G technology is still just a concept. We are yet to witness 6G, alongside whatever advancements and innovation it would bring about. That said, there is already some information on how it might work and what new technologies it could give birth to.

Keep in mind that all of this is theoretical at this point, so take it with a nice grain of salt while reading.

What could 6G bring us?

Sci-Fi concepts brought to life!

It is not that uncommon for technologies we see in sci-fi stories to eventually make their way into reality. Well, one innovation that 6G could help with is the manufacturing of completely autonomous vehicles (like in Westworld, for example).

Another area that can be massively improved with 6G is virtual and augmented reality services and products. This is where things start to sound a bit creepy, though. The thing is that 5G is already going to improve AR/VR greatly thanks to the faster speeds it can offer, so how would 6G make that even better?

Well, experts on the matter theorize that 6G might allow for connected implants (chips) that would be placed in our brains, alongside “wireless brain-computer interfaces.” That way, you get rid of the need for a pair of goggles and have constant access to your virtual reality. Yeah, this is the type of stuff that makes you get the heebie-jeebies.

Health and Safety

While we are still on a creepy note, it seems fitting to add that 6G could significantly affect public safety. The government can make use of 6G for facial recognition, threat detection, and even in areas like law enforcement.

The good news is that 6G could also be used to measure our well-being and factors that can affect it such as air quality, toxicity levels, etc.

Edge computing

6G has the potential to pair up perfectly with another innovation that has been building traction recently, the so-called “edge computing.”

Edge computing is closely connected to the IoT (internet of things), which are all the devices we use that “talk” to the cloud and exchange information. That process can become slower depending on the distance said information has to travel, though, and edge computing aims to use smaller devices to localize servers and therefore reduce latency and increase speed.

What 6G can contribute here is to allow for our own devices to function as small hubs and become part of edge computing themselves.

More speed!

Finally, even though higher internet speeds are not the only improvement we might see when 6G comes around, it is definitely a big part of it. A senior lecturer at the University of Sydney by the name of Dr. Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam suggested that theoretically, we could achieve 1 terabyte — the equivalent of 1000GB — per second. That estimate applies to data transmitted in short bursts across limited distances.

However, given that the theoretical peak for 5G is about 10GB per second, it is hard to imagine such a big leap. A more realistic speed, especially in the first few years, might be a little less than half of that.

How is 6G different from 5G and 4G?

The fourth generation of wireless internet was the first one that allowed us to experience the web as we do today. The speeds that came with 4G made it possible to stream higher quality videos and play online games easily.

5G, of course, comes with a massive jump in speed, varying from about 40Mbps to as high as 1,100 Mbps. It also expands further than just personal devices and has the potential to be implemented in public infrastructure and services, becoming a technology that affects many more people in a given community.

6G, on the other hand, is expected to dive in and expand similar mutually beneficial advancements like Wi-Fi implants, edge computing, automation, AI, and much, much more. Keep in mind, however, that nobody knows what 6G would entail and look like.

When is 6G coming?

There is no clear date or even year when 6G is supposed to become publicly available, however, experts predict that we will see its introduction by 2030. If you look at how much time usually passes between the generations, it usually takes between 8-10 years.

Can 6G replace Wi-Fi?

6G has a high potential to completely replace Wi-Fi. Frankly, some internet providers and carriers have already tried utilizing 5G connectivity to replace Wi-Fi in people’s homes. In other words, we might not even have to wait until the next generation for wireless internet to replace our home Wi-Fi networks.

Who is behind 6G?

Frankly, there are a lot of parties that are already involved in progressing 6G technology, alongside whatever it might introduce to the mobile internet scene. As already mentioned earlier, some of the biggest tech companies like Samsung, Huawei, Nokia, and others have already set up research and development programs and have their teams working on 6G.

More specifically, though, here are just a few of the projects that are currently ongoing:

  • Ericsson (located in Sweden), Nokia (Finland), and TIM (Italy) have joined forces and created Hexa-X. Hexa-X consists of members that are experts on the topic of wireless internet who are working together to advance 6G technology.

  • Samsung has made a couple of partnerships with the mutual goal of advancing 6G tech. In 2021, the South Korea based tech giant assisted The University of Texas in launching a 6G research center.

  • In 2022, Samsung entered a partnership with Keysight to push the development of AI-enabled air interfaces that use massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology.

  • LG has also joined the race to 6G by opening its own R&D center together with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Alongside the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI), LG and KAIST are working on optimizing the efficiency and output of 6G radio waves.

  • The University of Texas is currently working on machine learning capabilities, advanced sensing, location, and the terahertz wavelength itself, in its 6G research and development center. The center was built thanks to not only Samsung, but also Qualcomm, Nvidia, AT&T, and InterDigital.

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