6G Networks: The Future of Wireless Communications

8 mins

6G (sixth-generation wireless) is the latest advancement in wireless network technology, set...

6G (sixth-generation wireless) is the latest advancement in wireless network technology, set to surpass the capabilities of previous iterations of 4G and 5 G. Forecasted to showcase advanced speeds, microsecond latency, and unprecedented connectivity, 6G technology could transform industries and job roles across the network space and revolutionise the future of wireless communications. 

With 6G network technology on the horizon, this guide will explore the intricacies of this innovative wireless technology. We’ll answer the question, ‘What is 6G?’ before outlining how it could work, the expected benefits it will bring, and when it will be released worldwide. 

This guide will cover the following:

  • What is 6G?
  • How will 6G technology work?
  • What are the benefits of 6G?
  • When will 6G come out?

What is 6G?

6G is primed to become a future network engineering and cellular technology innovation. Poised to deliver high-capacity coverage at unprecedented speeds with low latency, 6G technology will support businesses worldwide and the lives of the global population. It has bold targets of surpassing its predecessor, with expectations of being capable of achieving microsecond latency communications, making it 1,000 times faster than 5G.

Close to powering the future of wireless communications, 6G networks will utilise higher frequencies than 5G, allowing for significant improvements to wireless technology. 6G is predicted to revolutionise aspects of wireless communication such as location awareness, imaging, enhanced network capacity and improved security. We'll discuss the benefits of 6G technology later in this guide. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will complement 6G technology. 6G will use AI and ML to support decision-making about IT infrastructure. It will help identify the best locations for data storage, sharing, and processing to enhance a network's performance and user experience. As the world evolves into the use of driverless cars, smart cities, and augmented and virtual reality, 6G wireless technology and future cellular generations will be at the forefront. 

Despite not being finalised, 6G technology is close to helping the world become more interconnected with more intelligent networks capable of advancing our current scope of wireless communications. 6G networks are still in the research and development phases, but once they are live, they will open the world up to the most advanced approach to wireless technology. 

Later in this guide, we'll outline when 6G networks are expected to become part of our digital world. Before we get to that, let's outline how 6G technology might work.

How will 6G technology work?

6G networks are right around the corner. So, whether you're a business seeking to hire permanent or contract network specialists or a candidate thinking about applying for future network engineering jobs, understanding how 6G technology could work is essential. 

As 6G technology is still in its development stages and awaiting sign-off by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), we can only predict how it might work. Based on previous generations of wireless technologies, we can make a solid prediction to answer the question of how 6G technology will work.

6G wireless technology is forecasted to enhance the efficiencies of a free spectrum. Unlike current wireless communication technologies that enable transmissions and receptions on one frequency at a time, 6G technology may be able to apply advanced mathematics to allow simultaneous transmissions and receptions to occur on the same frequency.

Much of the research around 6G networks has focused on transmitting data at exponentially high frequencies. For context, 5G uses frequencies of up to 39 Gigahertz (GHz), whereas 6G technology is expected to support hundreds of terahertz (THz). These high frequencies are fragile but, if tapped into, could unlock the potential for significantly faster data transfer speeds.

Unlike 5G networks, which typically use hub-and-spoke architecture, where end-user devices connect to cell towers, there’s potential for 6G technology to adopt mesh networking. Here, devices will be able to act as transmitters for one another’s data, enabling extended coverage for devices and improving the strength of wireless network technology where each device can participate in data transmission and reception.

What are the benefits of 6G?

In a previous guide, we discussed the 5 Benefits of 5G Network Engineers Need to Know. Now, it’s time to look ahead to the future of wireless communications and outline the benefits of 6G technology. From being capable of producing greater speeds with significantly low latency to enhancing security, enabling seamless accessibility and connectivity, and more, in this section, we’ll highlight the key advantages of 6G technology. 

Greater Speeds

As we’ve alluded to, 6G has the potential to transmit and receive data at unprecedented speeds—speeds that could reach over one terabit per second (Tbps). While 5G can deliver excellent speeds, 6G technology is forecasted to exceed its predecessor, with capabilities to transform how we interact with data and make downloading, uploading, and streaming almost instantaneous.  

Significantly Lower Latency

6G networks are anticipated to provide significantly lower latency than 5G. Defined as the time taken for data to be transmitted from one device to another, this ultra-low latency has the potential to deliver real-time applications with fewer delays or lag. This benefit of 6G technology can support the technological evolution of various sectors, such as supporting the advancements of autonomous vehicles and allowing the healthcare industry to deliver remote surgeries. 

Enhanced Network Penetration

Another of the top benefits of 6G wireless network technology is its enhanced penetration and extensive coverage across a particular area. With 6G technology, fewer cellular towers will be required to provide consistent coverage to one given area, which is advantageous in environments with frequent rain or dense wildlife and vegetation. For context, while 4G can cover roughly 100,000 devices per square kilometre and 5G around 1 million, 6G is forecasted to support 10 million

Boosted Network Capacity

6G technology is forecasted to support a substantially higher number of connected devices than 5G has ever been capable of handling. In an era of billions of interconnected devices spearheaded by wireless communications and the Internet of Things (IoT), this boosted capacity will support seamless and reliable communication on a global scale.

Advanced Wireless Sensing Technologies

The extensive frequencies of 6G technology are expected to deliver enhanced throughputs and significantly faster sampling and data rates. As a result, 6G will help drive the progression of advanced wireless sensing technologies, allowing networks to collate signals reflected from objects to create digital equivalents of the physical environment. Combined with AI and ML, this data will provide new insights into the physical world and increase the intellectual capacity of networks.

Improved Security

Network security is extremely vital in today’s modern tech world, where reliance on interconnected devices comes with an increased risk of cyber threats. It’s expected that 6G technology will harness advanced security measures to safeguard data transmissions and network infrastructure from potential attacks, privacy breaches, and unauthorised access to sensitive data. 

Seamless Accessibility and Connectivity

As mentioned, the infrastructure of 6G networks is expected to provide greater connectivity than previous generations of wireless technology, with coverage of up to 10 million devices per square kilometre. Additionally, by using new radio spectrums to support low and high-data-rate devices, from biosensors and IoT devices to mid-flight or in-motion devices, 6G technology is expected to be able to combine ground, aerial, sea and even space communications on a unified platform. 

The increased bandwidth and responsiveness of 6G will allow for seamless accessibility and connectivity worldwide while supporting the enhancement of 5G applications and wireless communications. 

Inspiration for New Technological Innovations

The final benefit of 6G technology worth highlighting is how it will likely inspire the development of new and optimised data centres and next-gen applications. Working collaboratively with AI and ML, these technological innovations will continue to support the increased data demands and network infrastructure needs across various sectors. 

As 6G wireless technology comes to fruition and continues to evolve, it has the potential to introduce new industries, talent, and job opportunities

When will 6G come out?

One question enterprises and candidates in the network engineering space should ask is, ‘When will 6G come out?’. As we’ve touched on, 6G technology is still in development and has yet to launch officially. However, key industry bodies such as the ITU anticipate the timeline for the go-live of 6G internet technology to be between 2030 and 2035.

Global efforts are being spearheaded to support the research, development and launch of 6 wireless communications:

  • Europe: The EU project known as the 6G Flagship is the world’s first research programme regarding 6G. Established in 2018, the initiative studies the fundamental components of 6G technologies across Europe, driving significant research into four areas, including: 
    • Devices and Circuit Technology
    • Distributed Intelligence
    • Services and Applications
    • Wireless Connectivity
  • Japan: The Japanese government has agreed to invest 50 billion yen ($482 million) into developing 6G technology over the coming years. They aim to demonstrate innovative wireless communications and mobile technologies by 2025.
  • United States: In a joint agreement with Japan, the US has pledged to invest $4.5 billion in developing 6G technology, with Japan investing $2 billion and the US investing $2.5 billion

Additionally, the North American-based Next G Alliance, an industry initiative founded in 2020 and supported by the likes of Apple, AT&T, Google, T-Mobile and Verizon, is focused on developing 6G wireless technology, 

With global collaboration and continuous R&D investments, the vision of 6G becoming a commercial reality by the early 2030s is steadily progressing.

Rounding up the intricacies of 6G network technology 

6G technology is nearly ready to revolutionise the future of wireless communications. It is projected to deliver unparalleled speeds, advanced connectivity, and low latency. Utilising AI and ML, along with higher frequencies, 6G networks are poised to significantly enhance network capacity, security, and penetration. 

Anticipated to support the growing demands of smart technologies and IoT devices, 6G is likely to take the existing capabilities of wireless network technologies to new levels, inspiring new innovations, industries and career opportunities. When 6G technology officially launches, we’ll be here with our finger on the pulse to help clients and candidates adapt to the evolving network sector.

If you found this guide useful, check out our piece on the 5 IT Infrastructure Trends You Should Know for 2024.

Power your future with IT network infrastructure recruitment

If you’re seeking talent to future-proof your business in preparation for the emergence of 6G technology or are a candidate looking for the latest roles in the network space to progress your career, we can help. As specialists in network engineering recruitment, our experienced consultants are well-versed in helping you secure top professionals and opportunities in the networking and telecommunications space.

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with our network team to see how we can support you with your specific recruitment needs.