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|Mobile phone generations|
In telecommunications, 6G is the sixth generation standard currently under development for wireless communications technologies supporting cellular data networks. It is the planned successor to 5G and will likely be significantly faster. Like its predecessors, 6G networks will probably be broadband cellular networks, in which the service area is divided into small geographical areas called cells. Several companies (Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, Samsung, LG, Apple, Xiaomi), as well as several countries (China, Japan and Singapore), have shown interest in 6G networks.
6G networks are expected to exhibit even more heterogeneity than their predecessors and are likely to support applications beyond current mobile use scenarios, such as virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), ubiquitous instant communications, pervasive intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). It is expected that mobile network operators will adopt flexible decentralized business models for 6G, with local spectrum licensing, spectrum sharing, infrastructure sharing, and intelligent automated management underpinned by mobile edge computing, artificial intelligence, short-packet communication and blockchain technologies.
Recent studies have developed first ideas for 6G. A group based at the University of California, Santa Barbara has claimed significant progress by building a device that can speed up the process of development and save substantial amounts of time during the design phase. They reported key aspects of the device, including an "n-polar" gallium nitride high-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT), in two papers which were published in IEEE Electron Device Letters. The presence of this charge in the transistor gives the device the ability to operate at high frequencies, because the electrons are free to move quickly through it without obstruction. Although the data has not been published yet, the researchers claim it shows promising results, and, according to their plan, they will eventually test the new devices at even higher frequencies than before (140 GHz and 230 GHz, with both firmly in the terahertz range).
In 2021, engineers at Millimeter Wave Products in the USA have created and improved amplifiers for the G bands operating in the terahertz (THz) waves, which will be used in 6G products and services.
In October 2020, the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) launched a "Next G Alliance", an alliance consisting of AT&T, Ericsson, Telus, Verizon, T-Mobile, Microsoft, Samsung, and others that "will advance North American mobile technology leadership in 6G and beyond over the next decade."
Test satellite launch
|Long March-6 launches 13 satellites, YouTube video|
On November 6, 2020, China successfully launched an experimental test satellite with candidates for 6G technology into orbit, along with 12 other satellites, using a Long March 6 launch vehicle rocket. The satellite is intended to "verify the terahertz (THz) communication technology in space", according to the Global Times newspaper.
Recent academic articles have been conceptualizing 6G and new features that may be included. AI is included in many of these predictions, from 6G supporting AI infrastructure to "AI designing and optimizing 6G architectures, protocols, and operations." Another study in Nature Electronics looks to provide a framework for 6G research stating "We suggest that human-centric mobile communications will still be the most important application of 6G and the 6G network should be human centric. Thus, high security, secrecy and privacy should be key features of 6G and should be given particular attention by the wireless research community." The question of what frequencies 6G will operate on are still up to interpretation. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers states that "Frequencies from 100 GHz to 3 THz are promising bands for the next generation of wireless communication systems because of the wide swaths of unused and unexplored spectrum." One of the biggest challenges in supporting the required high transmission speeds will be the limitation of energy/power consumption and associated heat development in the electronic circuits to acceptable proportions.
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