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The Race for 6G
September 17, 2021 News


Written by: Nur Atikah Yusri, Journalist, AOPG

In this age of technological advancements, the development of wireless network infrastructure has become the generation’s ‘space race’. Currently, the most prominent player in the field is China.

How has this happened? Well while the rest of the world has been focused on the commercialisation of 5G, Huawei, the Chinese technology giant has moved on to greater things, the development of 6G and implementation of 5.5G. As reported by the Chinese news website Global Times, Huawei’s rotating chairman, Eric Xu Zhiju has recently posted a book preface on the company’s online community Xinsheng discussing the topic. The quotes seen in this article have been taken from the said news website.

The concept of Huawei diving into 6G isn’t necessarily a large shock factor to the world as the tech giant was reported to have been set to launch two satellites in late April of this year for 6G verification. In the same report, Xu revealed the publication of a whitepaper that Huawei will soon release detailing future 6G development plans.

While other parties have yet to outline their 6G development details and timelines, Huawei has announced its plans to roll out 6G products by the year 2030. Reports mention that currently, the company is working on defining 5.5G while researching 6G to surpass prior generations of telecommunication networks.

The jump to 6G has not been easy for Huawei as the company has experienced setbacks from the US chip ban enacted last year. Repercussions of the US’s actions have excluded Huawei from the 5G overseas market and may even keep them away from the 6G overseas market. Despite their outright exclusion, Huawei has not lost momentum and is currently leading the R&D efforts of 6G as they began while the rest of the world was working on 5G, in 2017.

The future of network technologies currently depends on factors such as geopolitical circumstances and deglobalisation as collaboration is essential in the process. Concerning the need to work together, Huawei’s chairman is quoted to have written “Whether the industries can achieve satisfying results (in 6G development) around 2030 largely depends on such factors as if the process of defining 6G is open enough, whether the participants are pluralistic, and if the communication is thorough enough.” Emphasising the need for global collaboration to achieve the desired outcome.

Nevertheless, an independent analyst Xiang Ligang who corresponded with the Global Times remains optimistic about the possibilities of global collaboration stating that recent circumstances would have raised alarms within nations to ensure collaboration for the greater good.

Now you may be wondering, exactly what will 6G entail? It is said that the technology environment for 6G will be ultimately more complicated than the current one for 5G. To get the desired outcomes, 6G will be making full use of various technologies such as blockchain, cloud computing and big data. Since no parties have officially released and defined the boundaries of 6G, explanations of it are currently predictions of the outcome. One claim though is that 6G will surpass 5G in terms of speed by 50 times, increasing capacity and lowering latency.

Although Huawei has been the most vocal regarding their 6G developments, other parties should not be discounted as the research of 6G has ramped up. A major player within the telecommunications industry and one of Huawei’s rivals, Ericsson in tandem with Nokia is currently spearheading Hexa-X, the European flagship program to define the blueprint for 6G. Over in Finland, the technology cooperation known as 6G Flagship has expanded to Singapore and published multiple resources regarding 6G. The US while seemingly late to the game has just recently passed a bill to necessitate the establishment of a 6G task force by the FCC.

Whatever the outcome of this 6G race is and whoever ends up being the eventual winner, the world will surely benefit from its contributions to the 4th industrial revolution. With Huawei’s recent comments on 6G, we must be on the lookout for more 6G content to come.