- What is 6G
- How is it different from 5G?
- Way Forward
Mission 6G — Time to lead
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Reliable data connectivity is vital for the ever-increasingly intelligent, automated, and ubiquitous digital world. Starting with 2G in the early 90s, the successive decade saw the emergence of 3G, 4G and now 5G which promises a peak speed of 1 Gbps compared to 20-100 Mbps on 4G. However, 6G holds the promise of 1 Tbps.
What is 6G?
- 6G (sixth-generation wireless) is the successor to 5G cellular technology, expected to launch commercially in 2030.
- It will go beyond a wired network, with devices acting as antennas using a decentralized network not under the control of a single network operator.
- 6G will provide higher data speeds and lower latency (the network that is optimized to process a very high volume of data messages with minimal delay) make the instant device-to-device connection possible.
- The major goal of 6G Internet will be to support one micro-second latency communications, representing 1,000 times faster — or 1/1000th the latency — than one-millisecond throughput.
How is it different from 5G?
- There will be an increased role of intelligence and machine-learning-driven networks in 6G networks, it will go beyond merely classification and prediction tasks done by legacy and/or 5G systems.
- It will shift towards a fully-user-centric architecture where end terminals will be able to make autonomous network decisions without supervision from centralized controllers.
- The 5G networks have been designed to operate at extremely high frequencies in millimetre-wave bands, 6G will exploit even higher-spectrum technologies including terahertz and optical communications.
- 5G networks were designed to provide connectivity for an essentially bi-dimensional space, future 6G heterogeneous architectures will provide a three-dimensional holographic coverage.
- With almost every device being connected and sporting an internal antenna, one square kilometre area may connect 10 million devices using 6G compared to a million in case of 5G.
- The 6G technology will facilitate large improvements in the areas of imaging, presence technology and location awareness.
- Working in conjunction with AI, the computational infrastructure of 6G will be able to autonomously determine the best location for computing to occur; this includes decisions about data storage, processing and sharing.
- 6G will bring about sci-fi applications like the integration of our brains with computers, and greatly improved touch control systems.
- It will make it possible for cyberspace to support human thought and action in real-time through wearable devices and micro-devices mounted on the human body.
- The speeds over 100Gbps could make possible sensory interfaces that feel and look just like real life, potentially through smart glasses or contact lenses.
- It will possibly provide coverage that would be extended across the sea and even out into space.
- There are key technical challenges to meet such high-end performance criteria.
- It includes energy efficiency, avoiding signal attenuation due to obstructions and water droplets in the air, maintaining end-to-end trust through robust cybersecurity and data protection mechanisms.
- Lower frequency bands are already crowded and offer rather limited spectral bandwidth which is an inhibiting factor limiting data speeds.
- The 100 MHz to 1000 MHz band offers uncrowded and wide-area enabling greater data speeds but with limited coverage.
- It would need innovations in antenna design, miniaturisation, edge cloud and distributed AI models.
- End-to-end security and privacy are needed to be ensured.
- India should indicate the intention for 6G by announcing a long-term vision, a multi-year (multi-decade) plan, strong investments, and minimal bureaucracy.
- These new tech initiatives (6G/telecom, AI, quantum computing etc.) should come directly under the PMO (like space and nuclear programmes).
- Execute the new electronics manufacturing policy as stated in the India Trillion Dollar Digital Opportunity document (2019) of the Ministry of Electronics and IT.
- India needs to replicate the space and nuclear technologies mission experience which achieved self-reliance and self-confidence or AtmaNirbharta.
- Technology leadership for a better world should be our gift to the world and ourselves.
With the future driven by technology, India needs to raise the ambition to not just providing leaderships for the Googles and Microsofts of the world. Instead, we need to create them in our Indian innovation ecosystem based on the strong foundation of Talent, Technology and Trust. India must act timely to elevate its position from the largest consumer base to the country providing leadership in 6G.