We are just getting used to the introduction of the latest super-fast 5G mobile data technology. Not all top-end smartphones are shipping with support for the technology yet, and many places in the UK will not be covered by the new networking technology.
However, scientists are already working flat out on the development of its replacement. Yes, 6G could be coming to a device near you soon … well, around 2029.
South Korean electronics giant LG Electronics announced this week that its researchers have successfully sent data signals using the new communication technology. In the experiment, information was sent 100 meters wirelessly over the 6G terahertz spectrum, setting a new record for the technology.
Both 5G and 6G work on radio frequencies to transmit data wirelessly. However, 6G uses higher frequencies than the older technology – much like 5G uses higher bands than 4G. It also includes new technologies like adaptive beamforming, high gain antenna switching, and even artificial intelligence.
Once up and running, 6G really promises to be really, really fast. Experts believe it will be able to send an incredible 1 terabyte of data per second. That’s a huge improvement even over home broadband networks, which are currently 1 gigabits per second, if you’re lucky.
“Latency”, a measure of the delay in sending data, is also reduced to less than 100 microseconds. This could practically reduce uncomfortable pauses, for example when making phone calls, to zero. Overall, 6G could be up to 100 times faster than 5G and more reliable.
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With all this speed, however, there are tradeoffs. While higher frequencies are faster in transmitting data, they are more easily blocked by objects such as trees and cannot travel that far. More transmitters may be needed to power a UK 6G network, which won’t be cheap.
The previous record distance for 6G signals was only 15 meters, which Samsung set at the beginning of the year. Here in the UK, too, experts are working on it. The 6G Futures research group was launched this month by the University of Bristol and King’s College.
Professor Dimitra Simeonidou of the University of Bristol said the group will be working on the “really impressive capabilities” of the new technology – which could power holograms, blockchain and real-time sensory information for virtual reality.
But the boffins don’t stop there. A team at the Institute for Electrical Engineering and Electronics has already started work 7G Technology.