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6G: Predictions and Possibilities – A Glimpse into the Future of Connectivity

Jul 3, 2024
Jonas Hultenius

The rollout of 5G is well underway and is promising lightning-fast data speeds, low latency, and revolutionizing the way we connect. But even as we grapple with the possibilities of 5G, the whispers of its successor, 6G, are already stirring some excitement. While still in its early stages of development, 6G promises to be a game-changer, pushing the boundaries of mobile connectivity and ushering in a new era of technological marvels. Just like all the generations that came before it, but even better.

So, before it officially hits the market, let’s delve into the realm of predictions and possibilities and figure out what advancements this next-generation network might bring with it.

I think the most obvious thing so far is it will bring us speeds beyond imagination. We see this time and time again yet are never truly prepared for the leap in performance that is always around the corner. The speeds of the upcoming networks are unparalleled, and some experts predict data rates exceeding 1 terabit per second, a staggering increase compared to the gigabit per second speeds of 5G. This might seem like science fiction, but early prototypes are already being tested with speeds well above 100 gigabytes per second, crushing the theoretical max speed of the 5G networks like a bug beneath is gigantic theoretical shoe.

These data transfer speeds are equivalent to transferring five whole HD movies wirelessly per second and without any noticeable latency. Which brings us to the next advancement.

While speed in and of itself is impressive, 6G promises to go a step further with ultra-low latency, the time it takes for data to travel between two points. Imagine a latency of just microseconds, millionths of a second, compared to the milliseconds – thousandths of a second, we are used to today.

The human brain, a biological computer with no real redesigns since before the stone age, has a built-in latency of about 70-120 milliseconds, with some highly focused individuals being able to clock in at just 13. The speeds and latencies of these networks will be so fast that we cannot even comprehend them. They will be mind-bogglingly fast.

This near-instantaneous response time will be crucial for applications like remote surgery, autonomous vehicles and real-time industrial automation. Human and machine intelligence alike will be able to operate from anywhere in the world, as long as there is coverage, and react to things that are happening in another location as fast, or faster, as if they were there themselves.

We are entering into the immersive frontier.

6G’s high speeds and low latency will pave the way for truly immersive experiences in virtual and augmented reality. Imagine hyper-realistic VR simulations for training, education, and entertainment where data is being streamed directly to us in less than a blink of an eye. A new breed of AR applications could revolutionize how we interact with the world around us, providing real-time information and overlaying virtual elements onto our physical environment without the need for complex hardware that runs the computing on the device itself. These are just a few of the options made possible with near limitless bandwidth.

The future of 6G might even blur the lines between human and machine. Now we’re entering into the realm of science fiction, but imagine brain-computer interfaces that leverage 6G’s capabilities to create a kind of “sixth sense”. While this might seem a bit farfetched, advancements in neural technology suggest a future where 6G facilitated human augmentation could be pushing the boundaries of human perception and interaction with the world. A whole new world where we are not just able to transmit text, video and audio, serving just two of our senses, but a world that could serve them all – the Internet of Senses.

6G doesn’t only promise to be fast; it will also take a huge leap in the number of connected devices, as it is currently slated to enables a connection density of 10 million devices per square kilometer, ten times higher than the connection density of 5G. Meaning the internet of things and smart cities just became even more viable.

All these advancements will require us to shift our ways of doing things. Computing power will be need to be moved even closer to the end user for us to really reap the benefits of this massive leap, and as such edge computing will have to become more of a norm than it is today. This change in infrastructure and architecture is such an interesting topic that I will be returning to it in a later post.

But when are all these things set to be released. We are just starting to reap the benefits of 5G, surely this next step will be taken in a far distant future? That last part depends on your interpretation of the words, distant future.    The current roadmap of 6G will have evaluation networks being set up during 2028 and a full rollout of the technology in 2030. We are almost there. And in the meantime, 5G is being modernized to lessen the gap between the two generations so we will see higher speeds even in our current tech setup. These truly are exciting times to live.

There are, however, challenges and considerations to take into account.

Despite all the exciting possibilities, a full scaled rollout of 6G presents several challenges that need to be addressed. Developing the infrastructure for such a vast network will be a significant undertaking as well as a sizeable investment. Just like in all prior generations we will see a rollout in densely populated areas at first, near financial centers and tech hubs, and larger cities with more prestige will be connected well before we will see broad adoption by the general public. But the wheels are set in motion.

Additionally, like with all things in our modern world, there are security concerns. With such interconnectedness the need to ensure data privacy is paramount, and developing robust cybersecurity measures will be crucial for building trust and ensuring the safe and ethical deployment of 6G.

And this especially if we’re going to connect our brains directly to the network. I foresee at least one Hollywood blockbuster on this subject within the next couple of years.

The road to 6G is still under construction, the blueprints being drawn, and the materials being gathered. But the potential of this next-generation network is undeniable.

6G promises to reshape the way we live, work, and interact with the world around us. It’s a future where connectivity is seamless, experiences are immersive, and the potential for innovation is boundless. We might not be living in the future just yet, but we’re halfway there.

About the author

Jonas Hultenius

Software Architect | Sweden
I love technology and I tend to collect languages, techniques, patterns and ideas and stack them high. There is a beautiful synergy to be had and endless possibilities when mixing and matching. A process I find to be both exciting and fun. Innovation has always been a driving force for me.

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