As 5G rolls out, the industry is starting to discuss the next generation – 6G. While 5G is still at its nascent stage, 6G will build on top of 5G. It is touted to drive the adoption of 5G use cases at scale through optimizations and cost-reduction, especially at the enterprise level. At the same time, it will enable new use cases.

Moreover, 6G will bring together the human, physical, and virtual environments. We have come a long way from using networks for telephony services such as calls and messages in 2G, experiencing broadband speed in 3G, deploying private office networks in 4G, to now setting up smart spaces using automation and robotics in 5G. Each successive generation of communication technology brings about significant changes in the network, perfecting the use-cases of the previous generation and introducing new ones.

India is running behind schedule on the rollout of 5G, but tables may turn with 6G. This is because the country has already begun the development of 6G. According to the  Minister of Communication Ashwini Vaishnaw, work towards developing the next generation of communication technology has begun using indigenously developed 6G infrastructure to launch it either by 2023-end or early 2024. To which replied the Parliament in August this year said, the Ministry of Communications had said that India is yet to roll out 5G services although permission has been granted to telecom service providers for “conducting 5G technology trials with a validity period of 6 months".

Industry players say that new communications standards come along every 10 years or so and that the 2020s decade being that of 5G, it will be in the 2030s that 6G is eventually rolled out. Though on tech there can tend to be a lot of margin between promise and performance. For example, most of our phones show the network as being ‘Vo LTE’, which stands for ‘Voice over Long Term Evolution.

What is 6G: Understanding Important Aspects of the Sixth Generation Wireless Communication Technology?

6G will deliver a peak data rate of 1000 Gbps. Likewise; it will increase the user-experienced data rate to 1 Gbps. Hence, the spectral efficiency of 6G will be more than 2 times higher than that of 5G. The enhanced spectral efficiency will enable a large number of users to access advanced multimedia services instantly and simultaneously. The network operators need to revamp their existing infrastructure to support increased spectral efficiency.

5G will reduce latency to 1 millisecond. The ultra-low latency will boost the performance of many real-time applications. But 6th generation wireless communication technology will reduce the user experienced latency to less than 0.1 milliseconds.

The huge decline in latency will boost the functionality and performance of many delay-sensitive real-time applications. Also, the lower latency will facilitate emergency response, remote surgeries, and industrial automation. At the same time, 6G will make the delay-sensitive real-time applications function flawlessly by making the network 100 times more reliable than 5G networks.

6G will beat 5G in the categories of network coverage and network reliability. 5G supports the highest speed of mobile devices at 500 km/h. But 6G will increase the speed of mobile devices to 10 devices/square kilometer. The enhanced connection density will make a large number of connected devices interact with each other in real-time. Also, 6G will optimize M2M interaction by improving network reliability more than 100 times and reducing the error rate by ten times. 6G will enable end-users to access a variety of high-end services seamlessly and instantly in real-time.

But the end-users will need devices with powerful batteries to access the high-end services without any delay or disruptions. 6G aims to improve the battery life of devices by two times. At the same time, the technology will contribute towards environmental sustainability by making the network perform optimally without consuming extra energy. 6G aims to enhance the energy efficiency of the telecom network by 2 times in comparison to 5G.

How 6G will be Different From 5G?

6G will not so much be about supercharged speeds for your movie-streaming experience as it will be for you to communicate with machines using gestures and for your gas cylinder to talk directly with your LPG provider, just to imagine some of the possibilities that it encompasses. Since devices get smaller and more aware, 6G will allow deeper engagement with the cloud for processing data, relying on developments in edge computing, which is architecture for bringing “enterprise applications closer to data sources such as IoT devices or local edge servers." It says that “this proximity to data at its source can deliver strong business benefits, including faster insights, improved response times and better bandwidth availability".

What Will Internet Speeds Be With 6G?

All this 6G will achieve through a generational jump in networking standards involving things like higher-frequency radio bands and lower latency. Mung Chiang, the dean of the engineering college at Purdue University in the US, says in an article that if previous generations of wireless networks “focused on throughput, as in how many bits can you send and receive each second… 6G will be more about latency.”

What Are The Challenges To 6G Rollout?

Beginning with, 6G till now is not very much more than an idea that is quietly revving on the runway of possibilities. This is to say, it is at an experimental level. Much of the tech that is envisaged as being an enabler of 6G is yet to be thrashed out. For instance, one of the top questions scientists would be working on is how to transmit the short-wave frequencies that will enable 6G networks.

Usually, setting up 5G networks has proven to be a challenge given the issue that millimeter waves can travel only over short distances and, hence, need a direct 'line of sight' between the transmitter and the receiver, or the user. Terahertz waves or the sub-millimeter waves that 6G aims to use have an even lower range.