What Initiates the Speedy Emergence of 6G Cellular Network?

By Telecom Tech Outlook | Friday, September 11, 2020

Addressing latency while connecting a number of devices using the new generation cellular network.

FREMONT, CA: Mobile phone technology has redefined the way humans interact with each other and with the world. When many areas around the globe are using 3G and 4G networks, it is too early to coin the term 6G, which will prevail in about ten years. The natural progression from 1G to 5G has eventually led to the bloom of 6G, the next generation of wireless data transmission. It is evident from the fact that when the capacity of a network increases, the applications will increase too. Consequently, the giant leap from 3G to 4G, and then to 5G, has rolled out new products and services with improved features, and in the long run, the emergence of 6G will cause amazing effects in new products.

Tracing back to the origin of 6G, latency plays a vital role in looking for many generations each one better than the previous. It is the time taken by signals to travel across the network. In the current generation infrastructure, mobile devices employ the radio network to connect to the base station and then to the core network. The same process is followed to return the signal. This is a time-consuming process for latency-sensitive applications and other Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The existing technologies, such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV), are being employed to reduce latency significantly. However, it will be too high for industrial applications.

The introduction of the upcoming generation of networks overcoming the disadvantages of the previous generation addresses the challenges of the latency period. While 5G has a latency of a millisecond that is comparatively 50 milliseconds or more on 4G, this latency is crucial when such a network is employed to handle drones, perform telesurgery using a mobile connection, and remote controlling of gaming characters. The future 6G network gains significance, chiefly concerned with self-driving vehicles. The autonomous vehicles should be aware of the myriad of details like their location, environment, and how it changes, and other road users such as pedestrians, self-driving vehicles, and cyclists.

The 5G network offers download speeds up to 600 megabits per second while 4G provides a rate up to 28 Mbits/s, which is being experienced by the current smartphone users. And the 6G is focused on delivering one terabit per second and connecting “trillions” of objects. Thus significant amounts of data will be created with rapid data speeds requiring big data analytics technologies and AI to identify and render useful information. The impact of these networks is enormous across industries; 5G will have a significant impact on business users and smaller impacts on consumers while 6G technology will virtually transform the way every human lives on the earth.

Aiming at higher transmission rates while connecting many end devices and shorter delays along with the integration of AI, scientists are currently working on the 6G network. Notably, latency can be enhanced by integrating AI. This will require network structures consisting of many small radio cells. However, to connect these cells, transmission lines that can hold high desired frequencies (tens or even hundreds of gigabits per second) are required. In the electromagnetic spectrum, the desired frequencies which are terahertz range are between microwaves and infrared radiation. The wireless transmission paths have to be seamlessly connected to glass fiber networks. The advantages of both technologies, namely high capacity and reliability as well as mobility and flexibility, will be combined.

In this regard, scientists have now developed a promising approach to converting data streams between the terahertz and optical domains. According to Nature Photonics, ultra-rapid electro-optical modulators can directly convert a terahertz data signal into an optical signal. The researchers have deployed the same, deriving the potential of nanophotonic components for ultra-rapid signal processing. The modulator is built with plasmonic nanostructures and has a bandwidth higher than 0.36 THz. Here, the scientists chose a carrier frequency of about 0.29 THz and reached a transmission rate of 50 Gbit/s. The receiver antenna is directly coupled to the glass fiber. The new concept demonstrated by the researchers while considerably reducing the technical complexity of future radio base stations enable terahertz connections with very high data rates—several hundred gigabits per second.