Even though 5G is still fairly new to users, developers and researches are already working on the next big thing. With no official name yet, the new tier of internet speed is simply being called 6G, but, there is nothing simple with the amount of speed expected from it. With speeds of up to 100 times than that of its predecessor, 6G speeds are definitely something to look forward to. Just imagine, with those types of speeds, you can download 140+ hours of videos, in one second. Naturally, having that level of speed would require a whole lot of research, but developers are already trying to identify the requirements to make such a thing possible.
A group of researchers from two prestigious universities in Singapore (Osaka University and Nanyang Technological University), have developed a new micro chip, which may just be the answer to the 6G speed conundrum. Based on their tests, the new chip is able to transmit data at high speeds (close to around 11 gigabits per second) which exceeds that of what the current 5G platform has to offer. To give you a better idea, with 6G speed, you can stream 4K HD videos, real time, without the experience of lag or buffering. The belief amongst the researches is that, with the upward trend of technological developments, then the possibility of reaching those speeds becomes more and more attainable by the day.
To put everything into perspective, let’s try and look at the specifications of your older platform speed (5G and earlier), versus the expectations for 6G. This might get a bit technical:
Wavelengths and frequencies are what’s usually measured when relating to electro magnetic waves. By definition, the wavelength is the distance between two different waves, while frequency is the rate at which something occurs. Our cellphones have a built in miniature radio which is used to detect and pick up electromagnetic waves or signals in the environment. These signals are what’s then converted to the visual and auditory representations that show up in our phones.
Currently, our 4G capable phones use only utilize small waves of data. These waves can be considered as low band or mid band frequencies versus a one gigahertz cycle (1 billion cycles/second). Conceptually speaking, 5G networks are expected to take it to the next level, by having a higher level of frequency wave, which can reach up to around 300 gigahertz (300 billion cycles/second). At this level of frequency, details that tend to be transmitted are more information-centric (i.e. more packets of data). Videos being transferred at this level are easier to transfer mainly because the speed was built to support those types of information transfer.
Your 6G takes it up another level. By tripling the 5G speed in terms of the waves that it can transmit, with a whopping 1 terahertz (3 trillion cycles/second). The research team expects that data transfer rates can reach as high as 11 gigabits/second, at its current estimation. Some people believe that these estimations are just scratching the surface of 6G’s potential.
One thing that’s important to note however is that the Terahertz waves that 6G will be transmitting are expensive to achieve. The research team had to utilize a fairly new material to transmit these waves. Photonic topological insulators or PTIs utilizes light waves and can have them pass over surfaces and corners, rather than making them run through something. This allows the light to go _around_ the corners without having to worry about the disruption of its current flow. Visually, the 6G chip that was developed is made up of silicon, with rows triangle shaped holes. To better show the possibilities, the research team sampled a transmission of terahertz waves, which was successfully transferred without any issues.
According to the Nanyang technology professor and project lead Ranjan Singh, terahertz level of technology can be a big boost to communications between and within chips. With the fast transference of data, the possibilities become endless, from connectivity of self-driving cars (better navigation and lesser accidents), to even being able to support artificial intelligence in the future. Aside from these, 6G can also boost data management capabilities for data centers, as well as long-distance communications.
Although exciting, expectations must be tempered as the commercialization and stabilization of 6G speeds might not arrive until 2030. Since prior internet speeds were spaced out 10 years apart, 3G in 2000s, 4G around 2010, and only recently 5G, the estimation that 6G will arrive in 2030 is pretty spot on. While we wait, we have the full release of 5G to look forward to real soon, which is not that bad at all.