The US may not be ready for 6G, experts say

  • A new report says the US needs to do more to encourage the next-generation 6G mobile network.
  • 6G is expected to provide speeds 1,000 times faster than 5G, the current standard.
  • The advent of 6G will make it possible to develop advanced technologies such as fully automated self-driving cars and remote surgery, experts say.

Next-generation 6G wireless promises to transform the mobile experience, but some experts say the US isn’t doing enough to get the technology off the ground. The US is lagging behind other countries when it comes to encouraging the next generation of communications technologies, according to a new study by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

6G is expected to provide speeds 1,000 times faster than 5G, the current standard. “While the US has an advantage in hyper-scale cloud computing, its telecoms sector has lagged behind due to a high level of industry concentration,” Ashish Jain, co-founder of PrivateLTEand5G.com, told Lifewire in an email interview.

Slow start for faster speeds

Last year, the Biden administration committed to spending $2.5 billion on 6G, but the CNAS report says more needs to be done. The report says the government creates a long-term strategy for 6G and expands research and development funding. “6G technologies will bring more than just improved data transmission speeds,” the CNAS report said. 

The geopolitical race for the next big thing in telecom technology, 6G, is already heating up, especially between the U.S. and China, and Korea, Bernard Ku, head of the Telecommunications Technology Group at technology consulting group Lumenci, told Lifewire in an email “For the US government, scrum for 6G is already intensifying and exploration in future defense use becomes an arms race to some extent, he said.

The US must pursue 6G dominance to maintain global power on land, at sea, or even in space. This will require an army of researchers working on it to remain competitive.” For companies, the stakes couldn’t be higher, Ku said. “The first to develop and patent 6G will be the biggest winners of what some call the next Industrial Revolution, he added.

This will not only affect the world of smartphones and computers, but will also have a considerably greater impact on industrial verticals including automotive, home appliances, manufacturing, energy, and healthcare.

The first to develop and patent 6G will be the biggest winners of what some call the next Industrial Revolution,” he added. “This will not only affect the world of smartphones and computers but will also have a considerably greater impact on industrial verticals including automotive, home appliances, manufacturing, energy, and healthcare.

The first to develop and patent 6G will be the biggest winners of what some call the next Industrial Revolution,” he added. “This will not only affect the world of smartphones and computers but will also have a considerably greater impact on industrial verticals including automotive, home appliances, manufacturing, energy, and healthcare.

6G can drive new technologies

5G speeds are a showcase for advanced applications such as X-Reality, machine-to-machine communications, digital twins, and 3D video communications, Jain said. But these technologies will need the faster speeds offered by 6G, she added. 5G’s transfer rate peaks at 20 gigabits per second, while 6G will scale to 1,000 gigabytes per second. “Performance of this order of magnitude is not achievable on single-user devices, especially smartphones,” said Jain. “Processing will be distributed across multiple devices on a comprehensive software-defined network.”

6G can drive new technologies

Most countries have yet to experience a 6G network, but estimates suggest that half of the world’s data traffic over the next five years will no longer be the result of people using it, Ku said. Instead, the data will be used by vehicles, machines, meters, sensors, medical instruments, or various other types of networked devices without any human interaction.

“With ultra-fast terahertz speeds and minimal response time, 6G will enable the development of advanced technologies such as fully automated self-driving cars and remote surgery that will eventually benefit everyone,” he added. One reason 6G is so highly anticipated is that it could finally make the Internet of Things (IoT) with smartphones and smart home devices a practical, everyday reality, Ku said. 

The researchers predict that 6G will emphasize extremely high bandwidth and reliability. “If 5G makes IoT possible, 6G will bring the optimal use of IoT,” said Ku. “6G Internet will be instantly and continuously accessible, woven for many of us into the tapestry of everyday life.”

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