5G to 6G transformation

As wireless communication becomes more entrenched in our day-to-day lives, the demand for connectivity increases exponentially. The power of wireless technology continues to push improvements in all aspects of our lives, from self-driving cars to robotics to medical monitoring devices.

Perhaps you’ve heard the terms 4G, 5G – and even 6G – bantered about, referring to mobile devices such as your phone or tablet. What do these terms really mean?

Now, in 2022, 5G networks are just getting off the ground, with many advancements expected to roll out over the next few years. Even so, technologists are already hard at work mapping out the plan for 6G and investigating both benefits and challenges.

When did all of this come about?

The 5G standard for cellular networks was developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) in 2016 and began global deployment in 2019. 3GPP is an international consortium of standards organizations and industry groups that developed standards for previous network generations. 

The “G” in each label stands for “generation,” as in “first generation,” “second generation,” and so on. Perhaps surprisingly, the generations of technology stretch back over 40 years!

  • 1G: Mobile voice calls, 1980.
  • 2G: Mobile voice calls and SMS, 1990.
  • 3G: Mobile web browsing, 2000.
  • 4G: Mobile video consumption and higher data speed, 2010.
  • 5G: Technology to enhance experiences and drive the digital transformation of industries, 2020.
  • 6G: Anticipated rollout beginning in 2030.

Benefits of 5G

The implementation of 5G technology has brought massive change and benefits over 4G, affecting us every day:

  • Significant advances in network and application performance.
  • Data transmission up to 100 times faster than 4G networks.
  • Improved reliability, decreased latency, and expanded capacity.
  • Increased internet speeds in remote communities.
  • Smart cities and factories getting closer to reality.
  • Progress on self-driving cars, automation, and augmented reality.

In addition to radical improvements in connectivity and communication, 5G has also pushed public safety, healthcare, and transportation advancements.

As we close out 2022, the estimated number of global 5G subscribers is predicted to surpass one billion. Additional efforts are expected to include most of the world within this decade.

5G Advanced

5G Advanced has a planned deployment by 2025, giving us a mid-generation boost before 6G rolls out. It includes:

  • Technical and network upgrades to expand on existing 5G capabilities.
  • Applying Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions to manage those network capabilities better.
  • Higher download speeds and continued low latency.

The primary drivers of 5G Advanced technologies will be connected vehicles, robotics, and real-time automation in manufacturing environments.

6G

We already know that the 6G wireless communication network has a targeted launch beginning in 2030. There will be some notable differentiators and improvements, including:

  • Enhanced scalability.
  • Greater use of the radio spectrum.
  • Greater reliability.
  • Dynamic access to different connection types, allowing connected devices to use multiple connections concurrently to stay connected even when one source gets interrupted (e.g., Wi-Fi and cellular)

What are some implications of 6G?

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The number of connected devices is estimated to reach 55.7 billion by 2025. Beyond personal cellular devices such as phones or tablets, the Internet of Things (IOT) deployment has expanded to medical devices, household appliances, cars, utility infrastructure, and more.

The continuing influx of devices will necessitate even more data transfer and storage advances. Beyond improvements in day-to-day activities such as driving or the use of machines, IoT capabilities will aid in predictive modeling for services (e.g., trash collection, bus usage, DMV wait times) and response to extreme weather events (e.g., floods, fires, tornados).

Manufacturing, logistics, and other industrial arenas will experience improved efficiency and sped-up supply chain and production activities.


Security

While improved technology can transform the delivery of services, it also heightens risks that threaten both economic security and homeland security. Enhanced networks will remain attractive targets for foreign adversaries and criminals intent on exploiting intelligence and security information. 6G implementation will need to rely heavily on the best cybersecurity practices and constant surveillance to ensure safe and secure communication.

The bottom line

Even though 5G networks have barely gotten off the ground, technology companies and wireless service providers are already considering the implications of future changes.

At Thurman Co., we help businesses manage projects to significantly impact their growth and success, and these projects often embrace aspects of digital transformation. When you’re ready to put your project in the hands of a trusted professional organization, contact us to learn more about working together.

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