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The near future of 6G technology 35

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Update time : 2021-03-17 15:26:55
Historically, with the beginning of a new decade, information about new generations of mobile communication appears. In the 20s (even though 5G has not been fully realized), information about the sixth generation of mobile communication - 6G - already appears. For anyone wishing to learn about the prospects for wireless networks in the "distant" future - welcome.

Speeds in the sixth generation networks
With the evolution of MIMO technology and into the millimeter band, 5G exists as we know it today. Obviously, millimeter-wave will remain a key solution in realizing the capabilities of next-generation networks. Already, concepts are being developed for 6G networks, which promise to be even faster, smarter and more convenient than fifth-generation networks. Let's find out what advantages 6G networks will have over their predecessor. 

The main difference will be the significantly increased data transfer rate - up to 1 Tb/s, which is 1,000 times faster than the data transfer rate of 5G. The increase in transmission speeds will lead to stricter signal latency requirements to the thousandths of a millisecond. 

Technical solutions for 6G networks
The "growth points" of data rates in wireless networks have long been identified and proven. The main focus will be on MIMO technology. If now you can hear about solutions such as Massive MIMO, in 6G we are talking about the so-called holographic MIMO. About the technology of holographic MIMO we will tell in a separate article, so far we can only point out that this is a new approach for data transmission, which is the effect of the beamform of the radiation pattern. 

In terms of frequency range, the trend is the same, moving to an even higher frequency portion of the spectrum. Right now, there is nothing technologically stopping us from working with the 30, 40 and 50 GHz waves of the millimeter band. Over the next 20 years, that range will expand to 700 or 800 GHz.

In addition to expanding the frequency spectrum, work will need to be done to make better use of the spectrum below 6 GHz. The recent conversion of the 6 GHz band to unlicensed is evidence of this.

 To create high-speed networks, more use of AI and machine learning will be needed. Smart networks can manage themselves and do so with far greater efficiency than today's mobile networks. A separate part of the spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band will be used for the exchange of "signal" traffic. Wireless networks will be controlled and self-regulated in this band. This approach will greatly expand the capabilities of the networks.

Smart networks will also enable a smoother transition to cell-less 6G networks. Currently, mobile network coverage is provided by hundreds of cells - honeycombs - scattered over an area, as shown in the figure below. 

With the advent of 5G networks, each of these cells is equipped with a MIMO array to serve users within the cell. But 6G networks involve the installation of a huge number of access points operating within a single cell, thereby moving away from the usual understanding of the cell and providing a transition to cell-less networks.

In such a system, there will be no borders that form a cell, so when a user moves around the city, there will be no switching between cells. The entire city would be one big cell. All people using mobile services in the city would receive "content" through multiple access points operated by a single network.

While all of this sounds daunting from the perspective of traditional mobile networks, it is worth considering the fact that devices in smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) systems already work in a similar way on local wireless networks.

The concept of cell-less networks involves moving to multiple hundreds of interconnected devices. It is this local connectivity of multiple devices that is the starting point for the development of sixth-generation cellless networks.

Let's pretend we are futurists.
Let's try to imagine what the wireless technologies of the future might be like in, say, 10-20 years from now, that is, what will be the capabilities and requirements for 6G and even 7G wireless networks?

Assumption #1 - 6G networks will address power issues
With all the data we have so far, we can assume that we should expect 6G networks closer to 2030. Sixth-generation networks will change antenna conditions, change the frequencies used, and most likely new technologies will emerge. 

One of the most anticipated is the transmission of energy over wireless networks. Already, a number of solutions can be found that allow devices to be charged wirelessly. Moreover, this no longer seems to be anything out of the ordinary. And it is quite possible that 6G networks will address not only data transmission, but power as well.

Assumption #2 - 7G networks will interconnect Earth and space objects 

The prerequisites for the conquest of space by "communicators" are already in place. In a series of projects, NASA, Nokia and 13 other companies, including SpaceX, have signed five-year contracts totaling more than $370 million to develop key infrastructure technologies on the lunar surface. NASA's goal is to make the Moon a stepping stone for further exploration of the solar system, starting with Mars.

A 4G network is planned to be deployed on the Moon today. The Lunar 4G network will allow control of lunar rovers and spacecraft from a distance. The networks will not only transmit messages to Earth via repeaters on space stations and satellites in orbit, but also distribute signals on the lunar surface. 

There are, of course, a number of factors that make communications equipment difficult to operate under harsh conditions, such as antennas and base stations need to be reinforced to operate under harsh lunar radiation conditions. In addition, during a typical day-night lunar cycle (28 Earth days), the network infrastructure will face extreme temperature changes of more than 250°C (-173°C to 117°C at the equator). Nokia is already developing compact 4G base stations designed to be delivered to the moon.

However, the model of electromagnetic wave propagation looks much simpler on the Moon than on Earth. The lack of an atmosphere, as well as the absence of typical terrestrial obstacles such as trees and buildings, will likely mean easier signal propagation, and thus lower costs for building base stations.

The development of wireless networks does not stand still. Time will tell what the next generation networks will look like and what features will be put into them by leading equipment manufacturers and standards developers. The potential is great and, most importantly, the technical capabilities to implement the most daring ideas do not seem to be so unrealizable as, for example, 10-15 years ago. Perhaps we will indeed soon be able to pay for a subscription not only to gigabit wireless Internet, but also to pump "kilowatt volumes of energy" through our smartphones, laptops, and household appliances. 
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