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What is 6G and are we ready for it?

By Roland Udvarlaki May 2, 2022, 4:00 pm
Taking a speedtest and displaying 6G in the background Source: Background: Unsplash, Frederik Lipfert, Pocketnow

It may seem strange that we’re already talking about 6G, even though 5G has only just become mainstream in most developed regions. Technology is advancing at a fast rate, but it’s worth mentioning that, like 4G and 5G, it will take another decade until we see faster speeds that aim to make our lives easier and more connected. We’ve recently posted a report talking about a research that found that less than half of the Americans use a 5G device and 5G connection.

Another recent report published by BusinessKorea (via GSMArena) mentions that South Korea wants to take steps to excel and lead the next generation of mobile networks. The 5G development was mainly fueled by companies such as Nokia, Ericsson, and Qualcomm, but HUAWEI, T-Mobile, AT&T, ZTE, Verizon, and Vodafone all played major roles in refining, fine-tuning, and producing related hardware to ensure it met the standards and requirements.


The BusinessKorea report states that the South Korean government wants to come up with a 6G prototype in 2026, and the commercial, final product is expected to roll out between 2028 and 2030. This means that we’re about a decade away from seeing 6G become the new mainstream network. The Presidential Transition Committee said:

“When it comes to future economic growth drivers, the current government is focusing on non-memory chip, future car and biotech and healthcare,” it said, adding, “The new government is planning to add 6G communications, secondary battery, display, defense and aerospace, advanced nuclear power plant and digital content.”

The timeline suggests that we could see 6G technology become the “next big thing” by around 2030, assuming that everything goes according to plan, and that the world can safely recover from the pandemic and the global shortages.

What is 6G?

Cell tower with "6G" text on the left side Source: Background: Unsplash, Vyacheslav Shatskiy, Pocketnow

5G operates at about 28GHz and 39GHz frequencies, which is much higher than the 700 MHz-2500MHz used for 4G networks. The next generation of 6G is expected to operate above 100 GHz, which is twice the amount of the highest 5G frequency that is currently used for the mmWave implementations.

6G will focus on improving 5G, and it will make it more reliable, improve and promise zero latency, increase the peak data rate, and be at least twice as much more energy efficient. Samsungposted a chart that compares 5G (light blue) to the expected 6G implementation (dark blue).

Samsung 5G vs 6G chart Source: Samsung

6G is expected to bring a mind-blowing 1 Tbps speed (1,000 times the bandwidth of a typical Ethernet port) and latency of under 100 µs (or one 10,000th of a second). The chart above clearly shows how much faster and better 6G is expected to be compared to the existing 5G technology. We hope to see a significant leap in terms of advancement, but it remains to be seen how our infrastructure and how services will adapt the technology to let users take advantage of the faster media that will be available as a result of the new network.

How are we doing with 5G?

Global Smartphone Sales Penetration by 5G and 4G
Global Smartphone Sales Penetration by 5G and 4G
Source: Counterpoint Research

Counterpoint research reports that “​​Sales penetration of 5G-capable smartphones reached 51% globally in January 2022, surpassing the penetration of 4G smartphones for the first time, according to Counterpoint Research’s Global Monthly Handset Model Sales Tracker.” Regions such as China, North America, and Western Europe are the biggest drivers of the growth, and China had the highest 5G penetration in the world at 84% in January, 2022.

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series of devices were the main reason for the increased penetration in North America, but Samsung also played a major role with its affordable and high-end Galaxy devices. Qualcomm and MediaTek also managed to bring 5G to the more affordable mid-to-high-end smartphones in the $250-$400 range, and they’re also slowly making their way into the more budget $150-$250 devices.

5G devices have become cheaper and more common, but 5G speeds are still only just slightly faster than 4G. Although that’s expected to improve in the coming years, it remains to be seen what impacts it will have on businesses that require gigabit speeds to operate efficiently.

5G didn’t bring the massive changes like 4G did when it replaced 3G, but it made the networks more stable, and it does offer significantly faster speeds – even if the average customer isn’t yet ready to take advantage of the gigabit speeds, other than downloading a few Netflix movies in a few seconds.


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