Beyond 5G: New Technologies on the Horizon
As 5G becomes more widely accepted and adopted, new advanced communications technologies are already in development. Some of those technologies, believe it or not, could actually overtake 5G before it reaches its full potential.
This raises the question: As corporations prepare to invest billions of dollars to upgrade networks for 5G, how soon will more upgrades be needed to accommodate the even newer technology?
6G by 2030
The next wireless network technology on the horizon is named—not surprisingly—6G.
Although 6G doesn’t exist yet, it will, and again not surprisingly, be a more powerful form of 5G that will still make use of concepts such as edge computing, containerization, and artificial intelligence (AI) to create a much faster Internet. This will be enabled through the use of terahertz waves—sub-millimeter-sized radio waves that sit on the border between microwaves and infrared radiation The result? Increased speeds and latency measured in microseconds.
Faster speeds and lower latency will enable instantaneous communication in phones, computers, wearable devices, robotics, and more. Terahertz waves, combined with edge computing, will allow for widespread implementation of wearable smart devices, metaverse tools, automated infrastructure, and other devices that have yet to be designed. Other advantages of 6G, noted Gerry Christensen, CEO of Mind Commerce, an information and communications technology analyst firm, include:
- Technology convergence — 6G will integrate previously disparate technologies, such as deep learning and big-data analytics
- Edge computing — Greater deployment and increased capacity of edge computing to ensure fast, ultra-reliable, low-latency communications solutions
- Internet of Things (IoT) — 6G will increase the global capacity for incredibly fast and efficient IoT applications, including automation, robotics, and machine-to-machine learning
- High-performance computing (HPC) — Combined, 6G and edge computing resources will drive the increased speed and capabilities of high-performance computing, which are critical for mission-critical and mobile technology applications
The 6G technology market should also enable advances in the fields of sensing and imaging, presence technology, and location awareness.
6G is expected to be available around 2030.
7G by 2033
Even though 6G is still on the drawing board, other wireless companies have already started to look beyond 6G to 7G—for the very same reasons that 6G is being considered over 5G. Why settle for a conceptual 6G when a conceptual 7G could be so much better?
Although large-scale 6G networks do not yet exist, some research groups have already started exploring seventh-generation (7G) wireless technologies. Edge and core computing 7G should be capable of delivering data at speeds as high as 11 Gbps, or about 100 times faster than most Wi-Fi available today.
According to TT Consultants, a technology consulting firm, other potential advantages of 7G are:
- Virtually no latency in communication
- Super-high-speed connectivity
- AI-based core networking solutions
- Incredibly realistic virtual environments (metaverse)
- Internet cognition
- Satellite networks for better global coverage
- Internet of Everything
“We are moving towards a wireless world with endless benefits, where everybody wants high-speed internet and a delay-free calling facility,” said TT Consultants. “Our world is rapidly approaching the wireless environment, with a great need for uninterrupted information access anytime and wherever it is required. As with growing wireless technology, we will see increased bandwidth at a lower cost and with higher quality.”
In addition to the added benefits, 7G networks will also help address potential critical issues such as threat detection, disaster preparedness, and IoT device management.
Future-state 7G networks also have the potential for artificial general intelligence (AGI). This technology is an advancement on the already in place AI that many industries, including manufacturing, utilize today. The one added benefit of AGI over AI, is that AGI can learn on the job. While AI performs scripted or specific tasks, AGI theoretically can process information, like a human and learn to perform new tasks based on the information received. AGI and other advanced network technologies would only be accessible once networks with acceptable speeds were online, like 7G.
“This sort of technology could transform the manufacturing industry,” says Abdul El Baba, vice president, advanced technology with Gray. “Once technology reaches this level of sophistication, facilities will be able to gather real-time information and respond instantaneously. Connected devices would be able to communicate seamlessly and nearly every part of the factory would have the ability to provide a range of information, from performance to interconnectivity.”