6G: Everything you need to know about the 5G successor
With 6G, the mobile Internet could become more than a thousand times faster. But what exactly is behind the 5G successor? We take a closer look at 6G technology, what it means and when it will come.
What is 6G?
6G is the next generation of mobile communications that will follow 5G. It will offer a number of improvements and innovations compared to 5G, including higher bandwidth, lower latency and longer range. In addition, a larger number of devices should be able to be connected to the mobile network at the same time.
"For example, some experts believe that 6G networks could one day allow us to reach speeds of up to one terabit per second (Tbps) on an internet device, a speed a thousand times faster than a Gbps, which is the fastest speed today is." – Lenindo Morais
6G will enable wireless network connectivity over a variety of frequencies. It could complement and extend existing 5G networks to cover more use cases. Also, it could provide better protection against signal interference.
Does 6G even exist yet?
Strictly speaking, the 6G standard is not much more than an idea that is being researched around the world. While the 5G network is still being expanded in some places in Germany, there are only early prototypes for the 6G network of the future. China and the USA in particular are at the forefront of development.
These 10 technologies could use 6G
There could be a real quantum leap between 5G and 6G.
The development of the 6G standard is still in its infancy. However, the 5G Infrastructure Association, an association for the further development of 5G in Europe, already describes in a white paper which technologies should be further researched for this purpose. We have summarized the ten most important points for you:
- Frequency reuse: 5G uses different frequency bands. The availability of a specific frequency band determines the performance of the connection. Radio frequencies are a scarce resource, especially the lower frequency bands. In order to meet the high bandwidth requirements of 6G, it is important to use the existing spectrum resources efficiently.
- Millimeter wave (mmWave) communications have a wide bandwidth and are used for various types of networks. mmWave technology can support high data rates and is used for autonomous driving and intelligent factories, among other things. There are still some challenges for 6G to use mmWave efficiently.
- Optical wireless communication (OWC) is a way of transmitting data using light instead of radio waves. This can help in freeing up the radio frequency spectrum, especially in crowded indoor areas. It also allows for improved geolocation.
- Terahertz communication (THz), semiconductor technologies and new materials: Terahertz communication is a technology with which data can be transmitted at very high speeds. This requires strong antenna fields, which are difficult to produce with current technology. New materials like graphene could help in the future. But other challenges also need to be addressed, such as how to make the technology affordable.
- Massive and ultra-massive MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) is a 5G wireless communication concept that packs a large number of antennas into a small area. It can improve communications by changing channel propagation and providing consistent services across the network. However, challenges such as channel modeling, synchronization and mobility support still remain.
- Waveform, Multiple Access, and Full-Duplex Designs: CP-OFDM waveform is used in Wi-Fi, 4G, and 5G. Alternatives such as NOMA and RSMA can lead to higher achievable rates. Hardware-friendly waveforms can reduce signal interference.
- Improved coding and modulation: Channel coding is used to correct transmission errors and is an important part of communication standards such as 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G. Advanced channel coding and modulation need to be explored.
- Integrated positioning, sensors and communication enables context-related knowledge and highly precise location determination. This is important for many applications, such as autonomous driving, and will improve energy efficiency. Significant research work needs to be done before this technology can be standardized.
- Random access for traffic-heavy connections: 5G technology can already support a large number of connected devices, but in the future it will be millions. In order to coordinate such a network efficiently, consent-free communication methods are currently being developed in order to avoid double transmissions. In addition, the devices must be operated efficiently and work with energy-saving protocols.
- Wireless edge caching is a technique for reducing network load, increasing power efficiency, and reducing communication latency. The method can speed up video streaming and Internet browsing, for example. How this technology can be combined with MIMO and other concepts needs further investigation.
When is 6G coming?
One thing is certain: 6G will take longer to develop than for data transmission afterwards. Image: © AdobeStock / TripleP Studio 2022
There is currently no official timetable for the introduction of the latest wireless standard. Experts like Dr. dr Ivan Ndip from the Fraunhofer Institute estimates that it will take at least 5 to 10 years for 6G to be widely used. However, the first tests are already taking place. Commercial networks could then be available from 2030. In addition to research and development, regulatory issues need to be resolved before 6G comes to market.
- 6G is the next generation of mobile communications that will follow 5G.
- The standard could be more than a thousand times faster than its predecessor.
- The technology is currently still being developed, the 6G network is being researched by China and the USA, for example, and there are first prototypes.
- In a white paper, the 5G Infrastructure Association discusses important technologies that could be used for 6G.
- Commercial use will presumably not be possible before 2030.