Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 26

last mile
Forget 5G - what is 6G and 7G connectivity?
BY SHANNON FLYNN
P
HILADELPHIA - While 5G networks
are still rolling out across
the world, some people are
already looking further. Telecom companies
have started developing the next
generation of mobile connectivity, sparking
talk of 6G and even 7G networks.
By the end of 2020, there were only
217 million 5G subscriptions worldwide,
according to a study from Ericsson. Still,
innovators and eager consumers have set
their eyes on 6G and beyond. While these
networks may still be years away, they'll
likely have significant implications for technologies
such as self-driving vehicles.
What is 6G? The short answer is that it's
the next generation of mobile networks,
just as 5G succeeded 4G, and 7G will
likewise come after 6G. Just as 5G offers
higher speeds and lower latency than 4G,
6G promises improvements over 5G.
What those improvements look like is
less certain. Samsung has demonstrated
the possibilities. In June, it said researchers
achieved speeds 50 times faster than
current 5G - 5.23 gigabits per second.
With further development, 6G could provide
even faster speeds in some areas.
6G networks likely will work differently
than 5G. As the illustration on this page
suggests, 6G could use reflected shortrange
signals to dissipate to nearby connected
devices. This would support more
devices in an area than 5G's more-direct
signals, with lower latency, too.
WHAT COULD 6G AND 7G DO?
5G has opened new possibilities, especially
in industrial settings. Investing in
Industry 4.0 technology is a high priority
for automotive companies, mostly to
enable higher levels of automation. 6G
and 7G networks could take these applications
to new heights.
6G and 7G could further unlock the
26 shift * august 2021
potential of innovations such as edge computing,
crucial for autonomous vehicles,
and improve manufacturing. 5G connectivity
has enabled Audi to deploy robots
with instant reactions, improving safety
and flexibility. With new networks, these
robots could also communicate with each
other in real time.
Other potential applications include virtual
and augmented reality and human-robot
interaction on the factory floor.
6G and 7G networks may also feature
self-healing capabilities. Their more-distributed
nature could enable them to automatically
fix disruptions, ensuring more
reliable connectivity. Technologies such
as self-driving vehicles and autonomous
factory robots would benefit from this
increased uptime, avoiding potentially
dangerous errors.
WHEN WILL THEY ARRIVE?
Samsung believes the earliest 6G applications
could arrive by 2028, with mass
commercialization by 2030. Similarly,
Finland's University of Oulu aims to
develop 6G technologies by 2030, collaborating
with Japan's Beyond 5G Promotion
Consortium.
China launched a 6G satellite into orbit as
a test, but its full 6G rollout timeline remains
unclear. American companies are also pursuing
the technology; Apple hired engineers
for 6G projects this year. Like other
companies, Apple is eyeing a 2030 rollout.
In late 2020, several telecom companies
joined to create the Next G Alliance, a
partnership aimed at developing technology
for 6G and beyond. The alliance hasn't
announced a target date for 6G rollout, but
2030 or earlier seems likely.
The rollout of 7G networks is even
less certain. If it follows a similar rate of
advancement as 6G, it may arrive around
2040. The law of accelerating returns
holds that human progress happens exponentially,
though, which could mean 7G
arrives sooner. n

Shift Magazine - August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Shift Magazine - August 2021

Contents
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - Intro
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - Cover1
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - Cover2
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - Contents
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 4
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 5
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 6
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 7
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 8
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 9
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 10
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 11
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 12
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 13
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 14
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 15
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 16
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 17
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 18
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 19
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 20
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 21
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 22
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 23
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 24
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 25
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - 26
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - Cover3
Shift Magazine - August 2021 - Cover4
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