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What is 6G? All about the next generation of wireless connectivity

5G has become the wireless standard over the last couple of years, meaning that discussions have already started turning to 6G and what it could mean for the next generation of wireless technology. 

Read on to discover what 6G is, what it’ll be used for and when you can expect it to begin rolling out around the world. 

What is 6G? 

‘6G’ is the term used to refer to the sixth generation of wireless technology built to support cellular data networks, following on from 5G. 

It’s difficult to define 6G, as there is currently no universally accepted standard as to what 6G will look like. However, it is expected to be significantly faster and more capable than 5G, allowing it to support a wide range of areas from mobile devices and automobiles to VR/AR, holograms and advanced healthcare applications. 

“In the 6G era we will see applications that will not only connect humans with machines but also connect humans with the digital world,” said Nokia Bell Labs head of access and devices research Peter Vetter back in 2020 when the company announced it’d be leading the EU’s research into 6G with its project Hexa-X. 

“Such a secure and private connection can be used for preventive healthcare or even to create a 6G network with a sixth sense that intuitively understands our intentions, making our interactions with the physical world more effective and anticipating our needs, thereby improving our productivity.” 

5G brought with it faster speeds, reduced latency and more reliable coverage in comparison to 4G, so we’d expect to see even more improvements in these areas too. Many speculate that connecting to networks with 6G will feel virtually instantaneous. 

When will 6G come out? 

There’s no set date for 6G’s launch right now. 5G only really gained prevalence in the last couple of years, and research and development for 6G is still in its early days. 

However, if you look at the adoptions of previous generations, it’s looking likely we’ll see 6G arrive around 2030. 3G rolled out in the early 2000s, 4G in the 2010s and 5G in the 2020s, so, if we see a continuation of this pattern, 6G will be the standard of wireless technology in the 2030s.

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