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6G Will Kickstart a TeraEconomy

The 2020s started with 5G rollouts and will end with the beginning of 6G rollouts. While the implementation of 6G will pose its own set of challenges and complexities, it will also come with exciting possibilities, from HoloPortation to remote collaborative surgeries, and kickstart an economy of its own.

The 5G era will see gigabit throughputs, lower latencies, and massive improvements in capacity leveraging a robust network architecture, a broader range of the cellular spectrum, advanced cellular access RF and Edge computing technologies, and more. These will unlock newer connected IoT use-cases encapsulating several technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Spatial Computing (Xtended Reality), Big Data, Blockchain and Robotics. These use-cases will further accelerate digital transformation and newer business models across verticals, for example autonomous mobility, intelligent industrial private networks, real-time healthcare monitoring, precision agriculture and immersive entertainment.

COVID-19 gave an unusual start to a promising decade, impacting travel and cross-border tech collaboration besides many other sectors of the global economy, such as mobility. However, this year onwards, the growth could be even higher, buoyed by the accelerated need for personal, home and industrial “connected transformation” with the advent of 5G.

Near the end of this decade, we would be witnessing another exponential bump in the “connected infrastructure” with the advent of 6G technology.

The 6G Network: Terabit Dreams

  • The cellular “G” usually transforms every 10 years.
  • With the standardization to commercialization times getting shorter for the next G since the 1G era, we look forward to seeing the 6G network trials and rollouts commencing as early as 2028 or so.
  • What makes 6G look more promising is the jump to Terahertz (THz) communications as we move from Megahertz (MHz) in 4G to Gigahertz (GHz) in 5G with mmWave spectrum.
  • The spectrum range that is being proposed for 6G communications is between 300GHz and 3THz . This indeed will be a step change as the industry aims for terabit throughputs, microsecond latencies, and capacities never seen before.

Counterpoint Research - 6G vs 5G vs 4G Spectrum Comparison

Source: Counterpoint Emerging Technology Opportunities (ETO) Practice

The 6G Network: New Technologies and Approach

  • With an aim to adopt the Terahertz spectrum, we will see a need for more advanced alternative waveforms, modulation techniques, channel coding, beamforming architecture, network topology planning (e.g. terrestrial such as relays, IAB and micro-scale deployments, and non-terrestrial such as HAPS), holographic radio and ultra-massive MIMO from the network point of view.
  • From the device perspective, it is going to be even more complex as THz capable devices will require Line of Sight (LoS) channels, better power efficiencies, etc.
  • It warrants advancements in solid-state technologies, use of alternative materials (metamaterials) to design THz-scale plasmatic antenna arrays, RF front end and other components.
  • We foresee a photonics-based approach as a possible candidate to satisfy the radio capabilities from transceivers to the antenna for above-100GHz spectrum applications.
  • AI will be a key to intelligent network deployment, optimization of targeted beams, device-level link-budget planning, power optimization and QoS.

The 6G Network: Terabit Applications

  • The terabit throughputs solve a major issue with respect to the bandwidth needed to transport holographic images and videos over wireless links.
  • According to this research paper, a simple full-body human-size 3D hologram (tens of gigapixels in size) will require a Tbps bandwidth to transport it.
  • With advanced compression techniques, 6G architecture and related radio capabilities, we should be aiming to transmit this high-res hologram over a mobile link, also termed as HoloPortation! It will extend the reality spatially and transform how we communicate with each other.
  • Lower microsecond-level latencies could unlock real-time tactile applications such as almost zero-lag remote collaborative surgeries, real-time remote control of machines, and more.
  • Further, high-resolution digital twins or digital replicas will be used for interaction between the digital and physical worlds through mixed-reality devices and the power of AI.
  • Following are some of the applications we can envision:

6G Applications Counterpoint Research - holograms, digital replicas, holoportation

Source: Counterpoint Emerging Technology Opportunities (ETO) Practice

The 6G Network: Key Players to Watch out for

  • Network: Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, ZTE, InterDigital, University of Oulu, SK Telecom, China Mobile, Docomo, AT&T and more.
  • Devices and Components: Samsung, Qualcomm, LG, Apple, OPPO, Huawei, META and others

The 6G Network: Promising Future but Challenging as well

The mid-term future looks promising to take the extended reality experiences to an entirely new level. This will kickstart a Terabit Economy or TeraEconomy as we call it here at Counterpoint Research. Though this won’t be easy and researchers and industry will have to work hard to innovate, from adopting newer advanced materials to newer software- and statistical-driven intelligent algorithms and techniques for a novel network architecture and access technology approach. We will keep an eye on this very interesting development from technology, standards and business perspectives.

Source: Counterpoint Emerging Technology Opportunities (ETO) Practice

Neil is a sought-after frequently-quoted Industry Analyst with a wide spectrum of rich multifunctional experience. He is a knowledgeable, adept, and accomplished strategist. In the last 18 years he has offered expert strategic advice that has been highly regarded across different industries especially in telecom. Prior to Counterpoint, Neil worked at Strategy Analytics as a Senior Analyst (Telecom). Neil also had an opportunity to work with Philips Electronics in multiple roles. He is also an IEEE Certified Wireless Professional with a Master of Science (Telecommunications & Business) from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.

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