Is it too soon to talk about 6G?

The short answer is no. Although 5G is in still evolving there is certainly a place in the industry to start exploring what comes next. The aim of the game when it comes to 6G will be to use higher frequencies to deliver capacity that surpasses that of 5G with even higher frequencies. With some experts touting that 5G will deliver max speeds of one terabyte per second; 100 times faster than the possibilities of 5G, it offers futuristic use cases for healthcare, transport, security to name a few. A recent report from gave a high-level insight into the industry feeling towards 6G and we look at where 6G is today and what the future holds for the development of the technology


The industry feeling

Figure 1 Graph from 6G report
Figure 1 Graph from 6G report

46% of those in the industry that responded to the 6G report felt 6G will likely provide incremental improvement on all dimensions over what 5G can offer. With first commercial services for 6G expected to go live in 2030 it stands to reason there is a reasonable timeframe for network technology to evolve to be able to deliver that incremental improvement. Additionally, one of the most interesting graphics included is a look at what the biggest technology difference between 5G and 6G will be with many leaning towards their being a radically different network architecture. However, for us at ALCAN, what we found most intriguing is the take on the engineering aspect of 6G and how the jump to the next generation will impact the technical development of telecoms equipment.


Thriving at higher frequencies

Up until this point, developments in the telecoms industry from 1G to 2G, 3G and 4G have all been evolution. The step from 4G to 5G is a revolution. Moving through network generations to 4G we have seen operators use slowly increasing operating frequencies for each new system. However, due to the data hungry applications of the future digital world, an incremental frequency increase will not be enough to meet this demand. The need for significantly higher bandwidth will push technologies operating at much higher frequencies. 5G is an opportunity to move away from incremental progress and make bigger strides the new norm as operating frequencies increase considerably with sub-6GHz and 5G mmWave for example.

This lays the foundation for 6G, which is a completely different ball game. The frequencies associated are so high that it needs an entirely new approach and needs to be tackled in a different way. Instead of thinking how do we evolve my solution for 6G, the thought process for innovative companies needs to look at – how do we develop technologies that will thrive at the higher frequencies. For example, the ALCAN phased array liquid crystal antenna become more efficient, the higher the frequency which makes it perfectly poised to deliver 6G solutions when the time arrives. For vendors looking to make their mark in the 6G space, it is critical that they take a similar approach to ensure the technologies that power 6G allow the generation of network technology to live up to its full potential.