Where are we with 5G? What’s going on with 6G?
These are two loaded, yet necessary-to-ask questions in the age of rapid technological advancement in telecommunications and wireless interconnectivity spaces.
In September of 2022, 98 a total of 98 nations had either full-on commercialized 5G or had begun 5G trials (i.e. compared to 71 nations in December of 2021). Included in that were deployments of 5G sub-6 GHz frequency band, as well as 5G mmWave. Demands for ramped-up 5G in consumer mobile markets have also risen, but experts – tantalized by 6G pursuits – aren’t just whispering about it anymore. 6G is poised to hit mainstream usage by either 2030 or 2033, source dependent.
So, are we on the verge of a 6G era, after all? Or is it more pragmatic to continue with 5G-related ventures and what else it has to offer?
Still, results vary. Proponents of 6G lean heavily into its next-gen applications and how it can better support innovations like holographic communications and expansions of AI. That said, defenders of 5G argue that the terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks that will be crucial in 6G’s successes “just aren’t there yet.” They contend that prioritizing 5G will enable widespread expedited adoptions (especially for Industry 4.0) and that trying to “6G everything” too soon might be like “trying to pirouette off a horse as it galivants.”
As debaters debate, one thing’s for sure: Both 5G and 6G are hot topics, and things may be getting even hotter in the U.S., in terms of latter.
Ahead of a 6G summit this past Friday, a senior Biden administration official informed reporters that the U.S. is “aiming to shape 6G telecom developments before China can build an early lead.”
Per Anne Neuberger, Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, “We want to take the list of lessons we’ve learned from 5G – about the importance of early involvement and resilience – and drive an approach to 6G that optimizes performance, accessibility and, most of all, security.”
Certainly, no organization (nor government entity, especially) wants to get caught flat-footed when it comes to what 6G has in store, despite current 5G infrastructure and spectrum allocation discussions. Another senior Biden administration official said, “We cannot give dominance to any adversaries who show willingness to corner the market by offering distorted incentives while compromising security.”
Though this topic remains hot, it’s also quite open-ended as the U.S. monitors its 5G and 6G capabilities, especially alongside what’s transpiring with other technologies, such as artificial intelligence. So, for now this is a “Time will tell.” type of situation, but it’ll likely tell much sooner rather than later, as far as our recent history with innovations has shown.
Edited by Greg Tavarez