6G: Going where no technology has gone before

Teresa Mastrangelo February 27, 2020

Just as 5G is beginning to make its way into cities across the globe, momentum for the next phase of mobile communications – 6G – is beginning to take hold. While discussions around exactly what is 6G remain in an embryonic state – there has been a surprising amount of activity related to the subject.

The University of Oulu, Finland formed the Finnish 6G Flagship – an eight-year program backed by 251 million euros of government funding to not only support the finalization of the 5G standard, but technology components and solutions needed for the 2030 wireless era – the era of 6G. Meanwhile, Japan’s government – as part of its New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization – will devote 2.03 billion dollars to encourage private-sector research and development on 6G. 

So what exactly is 6G?

That is the multi-billion-dollar question. However, it is clear that there is a vision that 6G will bridge the physical with the virtual. In what NTT Docomo refers to as “cyber-physical fusion” and others refer to as “wireless cognition,” it’s where AI and edge computing will be used to reproduce the real world in cyberspace and emulate it beyond real-world constraints. Huh? Perhaps this definition: where human intelligence could eventually be sent over the air instantaneously. Yep. I’m confused too.

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