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The 6G Network: Your Questions Answered


Updated: November 18, 2021

From the 5G to 6G network

As our demand for IoT devices and technological advances continues, so does the need for a faster wireless cellular technology to back it. 5G may have just started, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for 6G. Looking into the future, the need for 6G will happen. Like what’s happening with 4G now, 5G will also reach its maximum potential, limiting future technology advancements.

Because the 6th generation is just new to us, many questions surround the new wireless network.

What is 6G?

Similar to 1G and 5G, 6G technology is the 6th generation of wireless cellular networks. Although next in line after 5G, moving from 5G to 6G will take a considerable amount of time. What’s considered 6G now may also be called 5G Advanced or 5.5G later on, similar to other generations such as 3.95G or 4G LTE. Time will tell whether this is true or not, but let’s consider it as 6G for this article’s sake. 

How will the 6G network work?

It’s impossible to say how the 6G network will work today.

As of now, we know 6G’s network will use higher frequencies than 5G, providing higher capacity while decreasing latency issues even further. 

6G is estimated to use terahertz (THz) frequencies – much higher frequencies than 5G’s gigahertz (GHz). One research issue has arisen involving the interface between the terahertz spectrum and hard fibre optical transmission lines. (Source: Network World) To reach longer distances using 6G, hard wiring is needed, but it’s not quite possible to connect THz to these lines yet. Along with these transmission lines, “spatial multiplexing” (when individual data signals are beamed in streams) is also required to get 6G’s maximum bandwidth efficiency. (Source: Network World

How fast is the 6G network?

To put things into perspective, 4G’s download speed in Canada maxed out at 17.74 Mbps during 2018 (Source: Mobile Syrup). But today, South Korea sees an average 5G download speed of 111.8 Mbps, making it 530% faster than 4G in Canada! (Source: Open Signal

Check out our previous article, Timeline From 1G to 5G: A Brief History on Cell Phones,” to find out more about other previous generation’s speeds and cell phones. 

6G is sure to have an extraordinary gain in speed, expected at one terabyte per second (1 TBps) or 8000000 megabits per second (8000000 Mbps), according to Dr. Shirvanimoghaddam. (Source: ABC News)

That’s a 7155535% increase compared to South Korea’s current 5G speed of 111.8 Mbps! 

Dialling back the excitement, it’s only speculation at this point. There’s still a vast amount of research and testing that’s needed. Also, other scientists and sources of information claim different expectations. For example, Wikipedia states that 6G will reach 95000 megabits per second (95000 Mbps) – a much lower expectation than 1 TBps.

Will the 6G network be harmful?

Many myths and conspiracy theories have revolved around 5G in the past few years, stating that 5G is dangerous and could radiate millions of people. There’s also a dangerous conspiracy saying that 5G started the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living in today. The truth, however, is far from this. 

5G is safe. 

Safety standards are set in place.

It’s not dangerous, and it won’t radiate you. 

However, some people will still ask, “If 6G uses higher frequencies than 5G, isn’t that dangerous?” 

electromagnetic-spectrum-5G
Right now, 5G towers can create between 30 GHz and 300 GHz worth of radio waves, but only waves up to 100 GHz will be used for 5G deployments. This range of electromagnetic frequencies are safe and won’t cause any harm because they are non-ionizing.

However, 6G’s frequencies were opened up by the FCC and estimated to be between 95 GHz to 3 THz (Source: FCC) – that’s 3 to 1000 times more potent than 5G’s frequencies.

If that’s the case, are they still safe? 

Looking back at the chart, yes, they are still safe because the frequencies are non-ionizing. 

That’s a lot of room for frequency improvement before it becomes incredibly dangerous. 

Check out our previous article, 5G in Canada: Is there a Health Concern?to find out more about 5G safety in Canada.

Who’s inventing the 6G network?

Even though 5G isn’t entirely out yet, research has already started on 6G technology. So far, the prominent companies and organizations to this date include: 

(Source: VentureBeat)

Although this isn’t a full list, it’s important to note that 6G isn’t going to be invented by just one person or one company. The race to 6G is international and will involve numerous people, organizations, and countries. 

When will 6G come out? 

6G is expected to launch to the public in 2030. Various scientists and researchers are saying it may take until 2035 to reach 6G’s maximum potential. (Source: CNN)

When will the 6G network arrive in Canada?

It’s tough to say when 6G will arrive in Canada. 

Looking back at previous cellular generations, it took most of the G’s some time to reach the Canadian market. For example, 1G launched in Tokyo in 1979, and Canada didn’t get access to the network until the mid-1980s. 4G established itself near the end of 2009, and Canada didn’t get its first 4G network until mid-2011. 5G deployments are also taking time. Introduced to the South Koreans in March 2019, Canada didn’t get access to 5G until almost a year later -January 2020. (Source: Engadget)  

Looking back, I’d estimate that 6G won’t be readily available to the Canadian public until 2031 or 2032, but that’s only a guess. 

What will 6G technology be like?

Although we haven’t even seen the full potential of 5G, 6G is still under question. 6G has been nicknamed “wireless cognition” by researchers, meaning that robots and artificial intelligence could have the same intelligence and function as humans. The only difference is that the intellect is sent through 6G airwaves. 

The University of Oulu in Finland suggests this is what 6G will look like in our daily lives – similar to an optimistic sci-fi film full of new technologies and amusing ways to use them.  

6G could also significantly increase cell phone capabilities. One example talks about how 6G phones could test the air around you for toxic chemicals or even test if your food is safe to eat. 6G phones could also be used to see through walls done by building up maps of local surroundings. (Source: CNN

However, 6G research has only begun, so it’s impossible to determine whether or not this will actually happen. 

6G: Sci-Fi For Real

We haven’t seen the full benefits of 5G just yet, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be asking questions about the future generation of wireless cellular technology. Just like 5G, 6G will be a revolution itself. With even lower latency than 5G and potential speeds of 1 TBps, 6G will open the doors to new technologies. 6G could also create possible ways of living we’ve seen in the past – through science fiction films. 

For now, all we can do is wait and enjoy the ongoing introduction of innovations and benefits coming from 5G – unless you’re a part of 6G development. 

If that’s the case, you’ve got a lot of meaningful work ahead.  

Are you interested in hearing more about 6G and other innovative technologies?

Download our “Next Generation Network Imperative” Whitepaper to find out what the future of next-generation technologies looks like.

The International Data Corporation (IDC), a world-renowned global market intelligence firm, was commissioned to complete this study.

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About the Author

Being the Content Marketing Lead at CENGN, Richard researches and shares information on emerging technologies such as 5G, IoT, and Artificial Intelligence.

Through his experience in writing and support for technological growth, he’s always interested in sharing how new technologies are shaping the lives of fellow Canadians.

More by Richard Galazzo

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