Insights : Is 6G Possible?

Is 6G Possible?

Is 6G possible? The short answer is yes. Some of the fundamental technologies underpinning 6G already exist, and extensive research is working to advance these and novel technologies to enable pioneering new applications.

Like any new technology paradigm, however, there are still substantial hurdles remaining to developing economically viable solutions for a broad range of potential use cases. 6G is still in its early research stages, and achieving its full potential will require continued breakthroughs.

In this article, we explore the technical and scientific foundations of 6G and some key factors that will shape the feasibility of 6G’s many promising applications.

What is 6G?

6G refers to the sixth generation of wireless technology, the planned successor to the 4G and 5G technology clusters that are commonplace today. 

6G promises to deliver reduced latency, increased bandwidth, and elevated network optimization capabilities compared to its predecessor generations. We take a deeper look at the key differences between 5G and 6G in our article here.

Like each generation before it, 6G is expected to provide faster, smoother, and more data-rich experiences for the applications introduced by 5G, while also creating entirely new possibilities. 6G will continue to expand upon 5G’s foundations in proven use cases like the Internet of Things (IoT), connected vehicles, and more. Looking forward, the enhanced networking capabilities provided by 6G technologies will also help to push forward the frontiers of applications ranging from robotic surgery, to virtual/augmented reality, to “smart” infrastructure and transportation networks. 

6G is still in its early research stages, and continued advancement across a number of key underpinning technologies will be critical for realizing 6G’s incredible potential and continuing to create new possibilities for wireless networking,

Is 6G Possible? Five Key Factors Shaping 6G Feasibility

Like past generations of wireless technology, 6G will roll out over time. Today, for example, 5G is still being deployed, while many important technologies continue to rely on 4G and 3G technologies. Based on the roughly 10-year implementation cycle of past wireless technology generations, we can project that 6G will begin to be implemented at a commercial scale by the late 2020s to early 2030s. Like 5G before it, 6G networks will likely first be introduced in select geographies before expanding across the globe. The pace of 6G adoption will depend on an array of technical, economic, and other factors—we outline some of the most important below.

  • Developing technological foundations. 6G networks will need to rely on new parts of the frequency spectrum, ultra-low latency communication protocols, and AI-optimized networks. Each of these areas is the subject of intense, cutting-edge research, and continued advancement will be critical to establishing the next generation of wireless infrastructure. We take a closer look at some key technologies in the next section.
  • Understanding the emerging economics of 6G technologies. 6G will possibly be adopted for high-value, high-performance applications first, gradually expanding as costs come down over time. Developing robust, innovative business models for the cost of 6G implementation and operation will be critical for understanding when and where emerging solutions can be employed cost-effectively.
  • Ensuring security and privacy. New network technologies mean new challenges for data privacy, new types of vulnerabilities, and the proliferation of connected devices that could potentially create vulnerabilities.
  • Developing new global standards. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the global forum for high-level discussions about standardization, approved its first official 6G vision in 2023. Besides, 3GPP, which issues globally recognized standards for wireless technology, is currently finalizing its Release 19 standard for 5G Advanced technology, and work on 6G standards expected to begin in 2025. The development of global 6G standards will be critical for setting the stage for commercial-scale deployments by around 2030.
  • The need to support wireless communication at an unprecedented scale. Each generation of wireless technology has supported the flow of orders of magnitude more data than the generation before, and 6G will be no different. From machine learning, to IoT sensor networks, to holographic media, 6G will be expected to support applications with unprecedented bandwidth demands. Solutions such as advanced antenna technologies (see below) will be critical for supporting the enormous scale of data expected to define 6G-powered applications.

What are the technical and scientific foundations of 6G?

Continued advancements in each of the following areas will be instrumental in making 6G a reality.

  • New spectrum bands. The 6G spectrum is expected to cover a wide range of frequency bands, including mid-band frequencies from 7 to 15 GHz and distinct bands like 7.125-8.5 GHz, 10.7-13.25 GHz, and 14-15.35 GHz. New research is also exploring the potential of the sub-terahertz (sub-THz) spectrum, a high-frequency range between 100 GHz and 300 GHz that could propel a significant leap in wireless capabilities.
  • Ultra-low latency and reliability. Ultra-low latency (even into the sub-millisecond range) will be critical for real-time use cases like autonomous vehicles, medicine, and industrial automation. Fault-tolerant, redundant protocols will be vital for ensuring reliability in the face of network failures and opening up new possibilities in high-urgency applications. This paper provides a helpful summary of research avenues in this space.
  • MIMO and other advanced antenna technologies. Multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO, a technology that uses multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver to improve communication performance) techniques are already leveraged by 5G technology, but their usage and density will need toexpand to meet the expected needs of 6G networks and take advantage of the expanded 6G spectrum. Examples of novel approaches to MIMO include massive MIMO (mMIMO), extremely large MIMO (XL-MIMO), Intelligent Reflecting Surfaces (IRS), and Cell-Free mMIMO (CF-mMIMO). This article provides a helpful summary of the key differences.
  • AI-powered networks. AI-based capabilities are already being incorporated in 5G Advanced networks, and AI is expected to be a cornerstone of 6G technology. For example, 6G networks will leverage AI to optimize performance, energy, spectrum, and bandwidth usage depending on different use cases and data types. AI may even help 6G networks learn from one another to dynamically adapt to different conditions.
  • Novel network architectures. 6G networks are expected to rely on architectures that are increasingly services-based, integrated with device-rich edge networks, and often cloud-native. Novel architectures will be necessary to accommodate diverse public and private cloud environments, support more dynamic and adaptable networks, and accommodate the vast scale of data required by applications like machine learning (ML) and augmented reality (AR). 

While none of these technologies are in the realm of science fiction, substantial research advancements will be required to make 6G an economical lynchpin of global wireless communication. Fortunately, some of the leading technology companies and research institutions in the world are committing substantial capital and talent to this effort. You can learn more about 6G research in our article here

Learn More About the Emerging World of 6G Technology

As we explored in this article, 6G is the subject of intensive research that will continue to unfold over the next decade or more. But the foundations for the next generation of wireless technology are already coming into focus. If the past is any indication, industry and scientific institutions will rise to the occasion and make 6G possible.

Our team is excited to see how 6G technology continues to emerge, evolve, and mature. We encourage you to join us as we track and share the latest developments related to everything 6G.




To reserve your ticket please fill out the registration form