While a lot of people have not yet wrapped their minds around 5 G mobile technology, Samsung has already started to talk about 6G.
The South Korean electronics titan discusses its 6 G future vision in a report released Tuesday, including megatrends for technology and society, new facilities, specifications, candidate technologies and an planned standardization timetable.
“While 5G commercialization is still in its initial stage, it’s never too early to start preparing for 6G because it typically takes around 10 years from the start of research to commercialization of a new generation of communications technology,” said in a statement clarified by Sunghyun Choi, director of the Samsung Center for Advanced Communications Research.
Samsung forecasted in its study that the earliest marketing of 6G could take place as early as 2028, with mass marketing taking place approximately two years after that.
Kevin Krewell, a principal analyst at the San Jose California office in Tirias Research, a high-tech research and consultancy company, noted that standard groups which create Protocols for Mobile Telecommunication, called the third-generation partnership project or 3GPP, introduce new standards about every decade.
“Assuming there’s no big hang up in committees, the Samsung prediction seems about right,” he told TechNewsNG.
Deserting 5G in the ashes
In fact, Samsung sees the technology making an immense jump over 5 G networks, just barely off the ground. The peak data speeds for 6 G would be 1,000 gigabits per second, or about 50 times that of 5 G, and air latency — the time between the issuance of an instruction and the execution — of 100 microseconds, or one-tenth that of 5G.
“The goals of 6G will be to take 5G to the next level of magnitude on bandwidth and latency,” said Krewell.
“The overall goal is to make 6G connectivity even more reliable and robust than 5G, allowing more connected services, such as radio connected drones and real-time augmented reality glasses,” he went on to.
If 6G is used to test autonomous vehicles, Jack E. Gold, founder and key analyst at J.Gold Associates, an IT consultancy company at Northborough, Mass, observed, trust would become a delicate issue.
“6G will need to expand on reliability because if you’re using things like autonomous vehicles, you can’t have signals going away and causing car crashes,” he told TechNews NG.
Samsung maintains in its study that 6G is being used for innovative technologies, including interactive augmented reality, high-faithfulness smartphone holograms, and using digital “twins” in virtual worlds.
“It’s hard to know what will be the technology that drives the adoption of 6G,” Krewell said. “In 2010, did we know that AR and VR, autonomous vehicles, and drones would be high on our list of uses for 5G?”
“It’s really hard to conceptualize what the use cases for 6G might be, when we’re still trying to figure out the use cases for 5G,” said Jason Leigh, a senior research analyst for mobility at IDC, in Framingham, Mass., a market research company.
“Features like these could support a wide range of advanced education, training and certification processes in various industries,” said Charles King, the principal analyst at Pund-IT, a technology advisory firm in Hayward, Calif.
“They could also enhance remote support for healthcare and other hard to come by services for rural communities,” he told TNN.
“Immersive applications for product and industrial design are likely,” he added. “There will also likely be numerous military applications, from advanced communications to real-time battlefield analysis.”
Because 6G will be operating in the terahertz bandwidth, it’s expected to encounter problems similar to those currently facing 5G millimeter wave technology. That’s acknowledged in the Samsung report.
“To cope with the difficult propagation characteristics of THz band,” the report noted, “it may be natural to enhance the massive MIMO technology that was introduced to support millimeter wave (mmWave) band in 5G. Since the THz band requires much more antennas than the mmWave band, there may be significantly more practical difficulties.” MIMO — multiple-input, multiple-output — is a way for multiplying the capacity of a radio link.
“The challenge with millimeter waves is they can only travel three blocks, and they don’t penetrate doors very well,” Leigh told TNN. “When you get up to that terahertz level, those propagation issues multiply.”
Initially, wireless carriers will likely adopt the same phase-in strategy they’re using with their 5G transition when they introduce 6G. Early 6G phones will support 5G and 6G until the newer technology becomes ubiquitous.
“You take the best of what’s already available and leverage that to take you to the next step,” Gold explained. “Eventually, you reach the next step and get rid of the older stuff.”
More Machines Than People
“Businesses which could utilize 6G features and functions to improve efficiency, lower costs or create new market opportunities seem the likeliest targets,” he added.
However, users may not be playing as big a part in 6 G adoption as they have in previous rollouts of the new technology.
The Samsung study indicated that the number of connected devices is projected to exceed 500 billion by 2030, which is around 59 times bigger than the estimated 8.5 billion world population at that time.
Smart apps can take on different form factors, it has continued, such as augmented reality glasses, virtual reality headsets and apps with holograms.
“As the number of connected machines grows exponentially, those machines will become dominant users of 6G communications,” the report maintained.
“Looking back at the history of wireless communications, technologies have been developed assuming services for humans as the major driving applications,” it continued. “In 5G, machines were also considered in defining requirements and developing technologies.”
“We expect new 6G technologies have to be developed specifically to connect hundreds of billions of machines taking into account what is required for machines,” it predicted.