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Since 5G mobile communication standards are still relatively new and are only being adopted in select parts of the world, while many countries around the globe are still using 3G and 4G networks, you can say it is slightly premature to talk about the 6G network. After all, when only 15% of the global population uses the 5G network, what is the point in discussing 6G networks at all?

With that said, technology is always evolving and standards mature over a long period of time, so technically we have always been on the road to becoming a 6G world. On the other hand it can also be said, talk of 6G at a time when 5G is still in its early stages of roll out goes to show how rapidly technology is advancing. With people around the world yearning for high-speed wireless connectivity, we have successfully transitioned from 1G to 5G in a matter of years.

Nevertheless, 6G doesn’t exist yet. For all we know, it may not be called 6G at all, but regardless this progress will lead to us having incredibly fast speeds, no buffering loops, and no progress bars. Therefore, even if it is in theory for now the 6G network can end up being one of the best things to happen since broadband internet connections that’s why we’ll elaborately discuss what the 6G world will look like and how will it be better than the technological developments that we have seen so far.

What is 6G?

The sixth generation of wireless technology, the successor of the 5G network, is anticipated to build onto the advanced capacity and revamped infrastructure currently being deployed on millimeter-wave 5G networks. With the help of higher frequency radio bands, it will deliver an internet service with lower latency and faster speeds. And this in turn will make it possible to back sophisticated systems like automated cars and more advanced mobile devices.

We have witnessed a new generation of wireless communication roll out almost every other decade, and 6G is believed to become reality somewhere around 2030. However, it is important to note there can be delays while it may even arrive sooner. Because as it is, evolution of technology is totally unpredictable.

Big changes are in works for the internet technology and that may be the reason why experts and many internet users around the world are researching, talking and are in general excited about 6G. The number of internet users across the U.S. has been increasing substantially, with more and more people subscribing to home internet deals. ISPs of the likes of Spectrum, Cox, AT&T and Xfinity from Comcast now offer advanced types of internet connections for homes and businesses so as to cater to the overall consumption of internet which has increased at record rates.

For precisely this reason, wireless internet providers are in a race to challenge the traditional broadband internet service providers in an attempt to meet the growing demand of high-speed internet connection with flexible and robust cellular networks.

5G VS 6G

Latency and speed will be the clearest distinction between 5G and 6G. These are the aspects that have previously differentiated 5G from 4G in terms of performance, therefore it is expected that 6G would be significantly faster than 5G. Although we can’t say for sure how fast it will be but given that we are already seeing 5G reach up to the speed of 1.1 Gbps, so it is expected 6G may top that by delivering up to 1 Tbps (1,000,000 Mbps).  

Besides speed, another important aspect is the bandwidth. As the radio frequency increases, there is gain in bandwidth. The reason why the mmWave spectrum used by 5G networks is thought to be the solution for 4G bandwidth limitations and network congestion. But, 6G is anticipated to use substantially higher radio frequencies than the ones used for 5G broadband cellular communications. 6G frequencies are categorized as the terahertz or submillimeter waves. While the FCC has permitted experimenting with higher frequency radio bands that fall between 95 GHz and 3000 GHz (3 THz), the D-band for 6G, as identified by key industry players and academics ranges, from 110 GHz to 170 GHz. In any case, 6G networks will utilize ultrahigh frequencies of the radio spectrum to give an unprecedented boost to bandwidth, far beyond what 5G can deliver.

With that said, 6G will most likely see the same problem as 5G has encountered in that it can end being extremely localized because of the inherent limitations of the mmWave spectrum. The gain in frequency comes at the sacrifice of transmission range. The reason why ultra-fast 5G speeds delivered over the mmWave spectrum by services such as AT&T Wireless remain limited to high-traffic areas and commercial consumption. Higher frequency bands used for 6G will thus be still more limited in range, around 10 meters only as opposed to 500 meters that the mmWave can travel. Which means the coverage of 6G networks is likely to be significantly more limited.  

What is 6G expected to look like?

As 6G doesn’t exist as of yet, it is hard to say for sure as to what it will look like when it translates into an actuality. But academics and research studies, as well as Wireless carriers look at the 6G broadband communications model as a full integrated internet-based system. One that would enable real time interaction between consumers and the surrounding IoT environment, which will not only include smartphones, smart wearables and smart home gadgets, but more sophisticated devices and highly automated systems such as autonomous vehicles etc.

Based on these projections, it would not be an overstatement that 6G wireless communication may just allow us to advance from Internet of Things to Internet of Everything. But then again, these advancements are mostly dependent on how 6G develops in the near future and how 6G networks are deployed and come to operate.

Here is a glimpse into what the experts believe 6G would be like:

1 Tbps Speeds

As per some experts, 6G networks can theoretically reach up to 1 Tbps on an internet device. This is a thousand times faster than 1 Gbps, which is the widely delivered top speed for residential consumption in the U.S. And is made possible only when cutting edge fiber optic technology is put into play. And as we said earlier, it is also much higher than the theoretical top limit of the speed of data transfer over 5G networks that is said to be 10 Gbps.

Essentially speaking, 6G will place emphasis on reliability and extremely high bandwidth, and making wireless internet instantly and continuously accessible.

Terahertz Waves

Terahertz waves are said to be the solution to bandwidth limitations and network congestion as it utilizes a higher frequency band than the millimeter waves. The fastest versions of 5G uses the mmWave band to transmit large amounts of data at ultra-fast speeds with minimal response time. This makes things like remote surgery and automated cars viable. However, it is important to take into account that these millimeter waves work only over short distances, which means you would need to be close to the transmitter in order to access the high speed internet connection.

The same goes for Terahertz waves which travel a far shorter distance. But via the use of a more advanced networking approach, this problem may as well be resolved. If so, 6G will open up the possibility of supporting even more sophisticated activities that require a far more reliable and lightning fast internet service.

Final Words

You have to remember 6G is just limited to imagination at this point. Albeit, a number of companies and governments around the world are interested in 6G networking tech.  With companies like the state-owned phone carrier China Unicom and the tech company ZTE forming partnerships to explore the idea of 6G further, tech experts and industry giants around the world are curious to find out how the internet is going to evolve in the years to come.

But given people around the world yearn for faster downloads and quick streaming, which encourages them to subscribe to different residential internet deals offering a range of download speeds, tech experts would keep on working to make wireless internet faster than it is today. And, the inception of 6G networks may just be around the corner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does 6G mean?

6G would be the sixth generation standard of wireless broadband communications. Much like 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G that have arrived before it.

What is a 6G base station?

It is a wireless communication station that sends out and receives cellular signals. Given the 6G technology hasn’t arrived yet, it is obvious 6G base stations wouldn’t be around either at this time. 5G networks and 4G LTE use cell towers and smaller transmitters, widely installed on utility poles to transmit cellular signals.

Is broadband internet different from wireless internet?

Wireless internet is a type of broadband communications as explained by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Broadband commonly refers to high-speed internet access which is always on, and faster than the now obsolete dial up. Based on the technology used to deliver a broadband connection, the type of broadband internet varies. For instance the wired types include DSL, Cable, and Fiber. While the wireless forms include Satellite, Fixed, and Mobile.