Yes, there are signs that 6G is about to be born.
The greatest proof of a 5G to 6G migration is in Release 18, the fourth standard for 5G, which has already been approved by 3GPP.
Release 18 is being referred to as Advanced 5G, but many in the telecom industry feel it is intended to lead a technological evolution to 6G.
The Release 18 package includes 27 diverse study or work items that will further boost network performance and address new use cases. In particular, the package features work on embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies in the evolution of 5G Advanced.
According to the timeline set by the 3GPP, the stage 2 of Rel.18 will be frozen in 2023, while the stage 3 is expected to be frozen during the last quarter of 2023 or first quarter of 2024. 3GPP also expects the protocol coding freeze during 2024.
Analysts believe the 6G standardization will start in 3GPP around 2025, and the innovative works conducted in 5G Advanced, such as embracing AI and ML technologies, will trigger a paradigm shift, lay a strong foundation for 6G design, and create a profound impact on future wireless networks.
Other features of Release 18 include flexible spectrum capabilities like DSS, IoT advances including deterministic networking and NR-Light evolution (aka reduced capability) and satellite-terrestrial integration.
Speed and latency will be the clearest distinction between 6G and 5G. If early targets are eventually met, 6G networks will supposedly have 50-100x the capacity of 5G networks. Also, where 5G must support 1 million devices for every square kilometer, 6G is proposed to support 10 million devices.
Exactly how fast 6G will be is still somewhat speculative. 5G’s bandwidth capacity lies in the fact that it uses high radio frequencies; the higher you go up the radio spectrum, the more data you can carry. 6G might eventually approach the upper limits of the radio spectrum and reach extremely high frequency levels of 300 GHz, or even terahertz ranges.
That said, experts in this field expect 6G networks to have many of the same limitations as the ultra-fast 5G networks until new technologies figure it out.
Want to learn more? Tonex offers 5G to 6G Migration, a 2-day course that explores what will probably be required to bridge current 5G technology with the next generation of wireless technology in 6G.
Participants will learn about 5G and 6G and what both are expected to do and how these architectures are different/similar.
For more information, questions, comments, contact us.