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6G: The Exhilarating Pace of Technology

18th, November 2019

It’s hard to believe that we only mentioned in May 2019 that 5G was being launched and now we are discussing 6G. Apparently, it’s common for work to start a decade prior to any implementation of a new technology, which is why we have started to hear about 6G before we have even gotten our hands on 5G!

Surely it must be assumed that the development of 6G will be adapted as we identify the failings of 5G, therefore is 6G purely just a conceptual name at this stage?

5G promises to bring more powerful Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality systems, along with Artificial Intelligence resulting in the advancement of robotics working in manufacturing factories, digital transport networks and innovative lifesaving equipment.

If this isn’t enough, then 6G is expected to roll out in 2030 to meet all the expectations that 5G won’t ever be able to satisfy.

So how will 6G affect Data Centre Design? IoT usage is poised to explode, with over 50-billion IT edge devices expected to be Internet connected, according to Cisco, and some may well be integrated. The amount of data generated by mobile edge computing is expected to grow four times by 2020 compared to 2016. Given that expectation, data centres on an edge network will be crucial for faster processing and better security.

Data centre design will need to change given the increase in distributed data on the IT edge. There is emerging consensus that the design of data centres designed to operate on an edge network will shrink to meet the needs of enterprises. Gartner Group, an industry research firm, believes the topology of networked data centres will evolve over the next five years from a centralised, mega data centre approach to a model supplemented by many smaller, distributed sources of content and information be it distributed, enterprise-owned data centres, hosting providers, colocation or the cloud.

With an AI-enabled world that is highly dependent on high speed, early predictions suggest that 6G will target speeds of 1 terabyte per second. Yes, terabyte. To get those speeds, signals will need to be transmitted above 1 terahertz, compared to the measly gigahertz range where 5G operates. According to Marcus Weldon of Nokia Bell Labs, 6G will be “a sixth sense experience for humans and machines” where biology meets Artificial Intelligence.

For one thing, it could make mobile internet speeds of 1 TB per second mainstream. This means you could download around 100 films in less than a second!

Of course, 2030 is a long way away, so the actual applications of this technology may be hard to imagine. As Verizon executive Andrea Caldini pointed out at this year’s Mobile World Congress, nobody expected Snapchat while developing 4G – it’s the increased speeds that made it happen.

Today, 5G networks are just starting to roll out. The current 4G LTE standard will dominate for several more years, as telecom carriers seek to recoup their significant investments made into that infrastructure. Some current 4G networks won’t really be used to their full potential until about 2025.

While much of the world is still wondering how long it will take to get 5G networks, and what it could mean to their lives and economies, a group of telecommunications researchers is looking further ahead to what comes after that: 6G. We will have to wait and see what this brings, but one thing is for sure, our reliance on digital means that we surely cannot stand still when it comes to technology innovation.

 

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