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'I have seen the Future and it works.

5G CE mark

Lincoln Steffens — 'I have seen the Future and it works.

The keen eyed amongst you will remember that last month we referenced 5G as being one of, if not THE, big ticket item in the telecoms world for 2021. We did so thinking that it would be neat if 4G coverage was up to scratch before worrying about 5G, but that’s just us living in the real world. Meanwhile, here’s the big news for 2027/8: Yes, it’s 6G, and, according to an email recently received, 7G is being worked on too.

What’s that about? Well, if 4G was all about mobile broadband, allowing us access on the move to those things we already had with a wired connection, 5G is all about speed and immediacy. 5G (the G stands for “generation” by the way) is of immense importance because it allows so much more to happen than 4G, and those things have been waiting in the wings. Just to rehearse, the data flow capacity 5G gives will allow the Internet of Things to function as it should, it will advance the capabilities of machine learning (the ability of machines to learn from experience), artificial intelligence and, on much the same front, the ability to further automate network management and security. There’s more though, because the increase in speed and therefore the amount of data that can be transferred in a given time will make cloudification (I know, but that’s what it’s called) far more applicable, in turn making smart devices such as autonomous vehicles (think tractors and picking goods in warehouses) more viable. Looking further ahead a planned 5G satellite network will be able to provide fast internet where no or slow internet is all there is at the moment.

More importantly, for some of us, it will allow us to download a film about 10 times more quickly than 4G.

Hold that thought for a moment. 6G promises to be up to 100 times faster than 5G. That would be over 140 hours of Netflix being downloaded in a single solitary second. And we should be seeing 6G by the turn of the decade. That’s the promise. Here’s the truth: You’re going to be seeing a number of things claiming to be 6G that aren’t. These different wireless generations are all standards set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and they haven’t even started work on 6G yet. The “first 6G satellite” launched by the Chinese last November? No, not 6G, it’s a political posture. Yes, it is intended to test terahertz frequency radio technology, which is likely to be a feature of 6G, but it ain’t 6G! Wi-Fi 6 is not 6G, nor is Wi-Fi 6E, so don’t be fooled when you see routers labelled with this.

As for 7G, well it’s decades away, but it’s already been called the Intelligent Communication of the Inevitable, which is catchy if unintelligible. It will be faster again, certainly, but it will also bring AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), the rising star of 6G, to maturity, hence the “inevitable” title. It might also herald what will transform mobile and wireless services as we know them, nanocore technology, the fusion of network operators as they share computer resources, networks and systems. 

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