6G communications, expected to be widely deployed by 2030, is set to become one of the largest technology investments ever.
A new IDTechEx report, “6G Communications Market, Devices, Materials 2021-2041”, predicts 6G communications may be more thing-to-thing than human communication – and that, while 6G may start off at just a few hundred GHz, it could quickly rise to 1THz.
Only 6G can widely serve the exponential growth beyond 500-billion connected machines in 2030, real-time holographic communication, the future of virtual reality and empowerment of the poor in realistic timeframes, the report states.
The market can expect to see cell-less communications and Wireless Information and Energy Transfer (WIET), with 26-billion passive-RFID tags yearly. 6G will serve airliners at 10km altitudes using Free Space Optical FSO links, and deep underwater with fibre optic links.
But, even at this early stage, some myths about 6G are emerging, according to IDTechEx. These include:
6G will be everywhere. This flies in the face of the megatrend of eliminating infrastructure. THz local investment will never be justified to put 6G local infrastructure “everywhere”.
* Widest-area 6G backhaul/ fronthaul is a done deal with thousands of Low Earth Orbit satellites recently flung up there and maybe 60 000 in prospect due to competition? They have a growing number of legal, safety, light-pollution, repair, latency and other issues. Solar fixed-wing and airship drones intended to be aloft at only 20km for a similar time of five to seven years have huge advantages of holding position, far-lower latency and cost, easy repair and heavier payloads. Smaller numbers will suffice.
* 6G should benefit IoT in locations with long-distance optical links. Serving unpowered devices such as 30-year, multi-sensor IoT nodes with fit-and-forget supercapacitors will be excellent. For more, existing energy harvesting is too weak and intermittent to power 99% of envisioned IoT nodes but add 6G WIET. Nonetheless, affordable 6G IoT everywhere in tens of billions yearly? Unlikely.
* 6G is essential for autonomous vehicles. This is not even desirable. The Tesla approach is to make a car you can put anywhere and it will navigate safely without being connected to any wireless system. Even the interim stage of LIDAR using ongoing mapping does not need connectivity. Relying on a new form of connectivity that requires exceptionally complex hardware everywhere would be downright dangerous. That is why the telecom operators went quiet about the 6G robot vehicle idea. Vehicles need connectivity and 6G may provide a better form but that is another matter.
* License 6G bands near 10THz for even greater 6G performance? Sadly, in air, there is a nasty jump in attenuation beyond 1THz and active components get really challenging. This is not desirable or achievable.