China has already begun testing 6G, but what does that mean for 5G and will nations be left struggling to keep up?
Australia’s just starting on the journey of rolling out 5G, but if you can believe it, China’s already talking up 6G. With technology being core to the health of the businesses and economies of the future, being one “G” ahead would seem to be a big advantage. But is it, really?
What is 6G?
Late last year, China launched what it claimed was the first 6G satellite into orbit. This launch – and satellite – is a test for the viability and reliability of 6G, and
represents the first meaningful effort to supersede the current 5G rollout across many parts of the rest of the world.
Even if the test is successful, it’s still a long way from being mainstream. Estimates are that the earliest it will be “live” for consumers will be 2030. What it promises, however, is blistering: 100 times the speed of 5G and that will mean you could download an entire HD movie in just 18 seconds.
Liam Bal, CEO of Spintel says, “6G is still at the beginning of its research phase but I do feel it is important to get involved now to understand where this technology is going. Technology is indeed bringing us all closer together at an unpreceded rate.”
This won’t mean all that much to the typical individual (you can stream films seamlessly on much slower connections than that) but for businesses and professionals with big data demands, this kind of speed promises a new world of innovation and opportunity.
Does that mean the rest of the world is left behind?
It would be a mistake to simply ignore the potential of 6G, and of course, no country or corporation is overlooking it – those businesses that are able to patent critical components in 6G technology are going to ensure the health of the business for decades to come.
Other big players in 5G are all actively looking to the next generation, even as they start to sell their technology to other nations for the initial 5G rollout. The United States, South Korea, and Japan join China as the acknowledged leaders in 5G technology and are in the best place to start tussling for leadership with the next generation. As far as individual corporations go, the likes of Nokia and Ericsson are also making good ground in proliferating 5G and building a basis for which to expand on.
However, it is true that China has the largest 5G footprint around the world and is likely further along into 6G development. The reality is that companies with government backing and large pools of money to invest into future tech – the likes of Huawei – are taking an early leadership position on 6G technology.
Technology is a politically-loaded field, however, and governments have been using regulations and laws to limit the ability of the technology companies of rival nations to expand markets. Chinese corporations have been particularly affected by this, with Huawei locked out of a number of 5G rollouts and engagements. This may hamper the company’s ability to play a role in the implementation of 6G.
What does all of this mean?
For consumers, the future inevitability of 6G doesn’t mean anything now. For context, there will be 8-9 generations of iPhone and Samsung mobile devices before the very first 6G service comes on-line for consumers. Nothing about 6G should stop people from taking advantage of the opportunities of 5G now.
However, business leaders and innovators should pay careful attention. Just as 5G is proving to be a pivotal technology in businesses being able to rapidly scale their operations and adopt advantaged technology solutions like AI, so too is 6G likely to cause disruption and opportunity, and split the business world into “haves,” and “have-nots.”
For now, it’s a good idea to monitor what results from experiments in 6G, such as China’s, have had, and start thinking about the opportunities for innovation that the additional speeds might unlock.