What is Behind the Drive Towards Terahertz Technology of 6G

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  • Author: Jonathan Borrill

Discussion of Beyond 5G and 6G topics has started in the academic and research communities, and several research projects are now starting to address the future technology requirements. One part of this is the push to higher frequencies and the talk of “Terahertz Technology”. What is behind this drive towards millimeter wave and now Terahertz technology for beyond 5G, and even 6G mobile networks? In this article, we will turn to our trusted colleague Claude Shannon and consider his work on channel capacity and error coding to see how future cellular technologies will address the fundamental limitations that his work has defined.

The driver behind this technology trend is the ever-increasing need for more capacity and higher data rates in wireless networks. As there are more and more downloads, uploads, streaming services, and inter-active AR/VR type services delivered on mobile networks, then more capacity and higher data rate is needed to handle this ever-increasing number of services (and always increasing the high resolution and high-definition nature of video). So, one of the main drivers for the future 6G technology is to provide more capacity into the networks. Coverage is usually the other key parameter for wireless network technology. Increase in coverage is generally not seen as a fundamental technology challenge, but more a cost of deployment challenge. Sub 1 GHz networks give good coverage, and now 5G is adding satellite communications (Non-Terrestrial Networks) to provide more cost-effective coverage of hard-to-reach areas. But certainly, the interest in millimeter wave and terahertz technology for 6G is not driven by coverage requirements (quite the opposite really).

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