While 5G is starting to take its first steps in the "real world", scientists from all over the world are trying to imagine what 6G will look like
Technology never stops: we're still at the dawn of the 5G revolution, with phone operators launching their first offers in Italy and other major industrialized countries, but already experts are starting to discuss what the future 6G network will look like.
The University of Oulu, in Finland, has just published a White Paper entitled "Key Drivers and Research Challenges for 6G Ubiquitous Wireless Intelligence", in which it collects the opinions of about 70 experts in the field who participated, last March, to the "6G Wireless Summit" conference, also in Finland. Of course there are still many years to go before the advent of 6G, and the technical specifications are not yet there. It's already clear, however, what will be the great benefits of this technology and the equally great technological challenges that await the telecommunications industry.
6G networks: all the benefits
The 6G white paper highlights the seven main characteristics of this technology, i.e., the goals to be achieved: data rate, signal latency, battery life of IoT devices, device density per square meter, increase in overall data traffic, reliability, energy efficiency, and device location tracking.
The targets for these seven areas are ambitious, to say the least: Speeds of up to 1 Terabit per second (copper blended fiber connections deployed in Italy today reach speeds of 200 megabits per second, about 50 times less than the 6G target), latency of just 0.1 milliseconds, battery life of at least 20 years, up to 100 devices per square meter, 10 thousand-fold increase in overall data traffic, extreme service reliability, 10 times greater energy efficiency, and location detection with maximum error of 1 meter outdoors and 10 cm indoors.
Artificial Intelligence, Thz frequencies and open source
The technological challenge behind the seven 6G goals, then, is enormous. To achieve these performances, according to experts, it will be necessary to make massive use of edge cloud computing, that is, the exploitation of the "edges" of networks so that workloads are distributed efficiently along all the nodes of the network. Data distribution will have to be managed with sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms, which will choose in real time where to sort data to prevent bottlenecks.
To transmit at a speed of 1 Terabit per second, it will also be necessary to exploit electromagnetic waves with TeraHerz frequencies, close to infrared. Finally, in order to reduce infrastructure costs, it will be indispensable to use open source technological solutions in the development of which all market players must actively participate.