What is 6G Technology?

What is 6G? When will it launch? What technologies will it use?

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- everything RF

Aug 3, 2020

6G is the next generation of telecommunication which will be the successor to 5G. Although 5G deployment around the world is still in its initial phase, research on 6G has started taking place. 6G is being developed using a host of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Extended Reality (XR), Automation, Robotics and many others. However, to meet such high expectations, there is a need for revolutionary technical innovations. We shall look into the performance requirements and new technologies can contribute to meeting the 6G goals.

6G requires massive performance improvements as compared to 5G. While 5G was designed to achieve peak speeds of 20 Gbps and utilize frequencies up to 100 GHz, 6G is expected to achieve data rates of up to 1000 Gbps and utilize frequencies up to 3 THz. Latency is also expected to be improved massively with air latency targeted to be around 100 μs, end-to-end (E2E) latency of around 1 ms which would be result in user experience latency of less than 10 ms. User experience latency is the sum of all latency components in the entire communication channel.

Though there is no specific 6G Standard yet, let us look at some technologies that can be used to achieve these requirements.

  • Terahertz Frequency: 6G is expected to utilize frequencies up to 3 THz which will result in massive bandwidth availability.
  • Improved Antenna Technology: To support the use of THz frequencies, Massive MIMO technology (developed for mm-Wave 5G) needs to be improved. This may include Metamaterial based Antennas and RF Front-End and Orbital Angular Momentum technologies.
  • Evolution in Duplex Technology: 5G introduced dynamic TDD to duplex flexibility, but there is still work being done to remove the restriction that downlink and uplink must use mutually exclusive time-frequency resources.
  • Evolution in Network Topology: One of the trends that continues to make progress in the evolution of network topology is the use of non-terrestrial network components like satellite and High-Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS).

  • Spectrum Sharing: Spectrum sharing enables better utilization of spectrum by allowing multiple entities to use it as exclusive license holders often underutilize spectrums.

  • Comprehensive AI: AI can be used to optimize the overall system and system performance. It can be categorized into three levels: Local AI; Joint AI and E2E AI.

  • Split Computing: Split computing can be termed as one of the most exciting features of 6G. This will allow the computing to be split between the mobile device and cloud servers which can result in lowering cost and increasing processing power of the mobile devices. We can get a glimpse of split computing in the cloud-based gaming services such as Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud among others.
  • High Precision Network: High Precision Network (HPN) is a solution to achieve high Quality of Service for interactive services with high data rates and low latency requirements as it is important to minimize E2E latency and jitter.

These are some of the key technologies that are expected to be used to achieve the 6G goal. We are still in the initial stage of 6G development and it is certain that there will be more innovative technologies coming up in the future. As the development continues, the targeted performance parameters can change for better or worse.

These new technologies also come with their own hurdles and challenges. For instance, Terahertz frequency allows huge bandwidth, in the range of hundreds of Gbps, but it also face challenges such as severe path loss, high atmospheric absorption, low penetration capability and increased complexity in RF modules. It will be worth watching how researchers overcome these challenges on the path to 6G and the numerous developments that will take place in the coming years.

Samsung has created a detailed white paper that highlights what 6G might look like.