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6G Technology Will Have a Major Impact on Devices, Materials, and Communications — Here’s What’s Ahead
by Shelly Kramer | February 17, 2021

The News: 6G wireless technology isn’t in use yet, but experts are already predicting it will make a big impact among companies that make chips and components for electronics. In fact, it’s likely that 6G will have even more of an effect on electronics and the Internet of Things (IoT) than 5G currently does. Access the IDTechEx report, 6G Communications Market, Devices, Materials 2021-2041 here.

6G Technology Will Have a Major Impact on Devices, Materials, and Communications — Here’s What’s Ahead

Analyst Take: 6G technology is still technically just a concept, as it won’t be widely available until about 2030. But it’s still exciting to explore. According to the IDTechEx report, 6G Communications Market, Devices, Materials 2021-2041 there’s already worldwide interest in 6G technology due to its many uses in electronics. One reason is that since 6G’s signal can provide power, which means we can look forward to devices that don’t even need batteries to operate. By 2030, 6G will not only push internet speeds to about 1 terabyte per second, it will also improve the smartphones, smartwatches, and other devices available to us in the future.

However, there are some even bigger implications of this technology that many countries and corporations alike are interested in, largely because 6G networks use higher frequencies and offer higher capacity than 5G networks. For example, last year China launched a satellite to examine the physics of 6G technology in space with terahertz electronics. These terahertz waves can push transmission speeds much higher than 5G. This means with the new 6G technology, it may be possible for terahertz transistors and solar-powered drones to work in the upper atmosphere among satellites to bring WiFi and surveillance to remote locations — something much needed in developing countries.

I believe it’s certain that we can expect to see other countries and major companies invest in this opportunity. For instance, Alphabet recently shut down Loon, a project that sent solar-powered, AI-guided balloons to float through the atmosphere to bring cellular communications to remote areas. The reason for ending Loon was largely due to increased competition from projects like Blue Origin from Amazon and Starlink from SpaceX, which use tiny LEO satellites.

But those satellites might be getting their own competition soon through unmanned airships that can bring even better communications to the world at a lower cost, thanks to 6G technology. They might even eventually become commercial, and one example of that is Thales Alenia Space, which just committed to studying the different applications — including surveillance and intelligence — of airships, with the first flight being scheduled for 2023.

While we can look forward to enjoying faster internet and battery-less devices as a result of 6G, we should also keep a close eye on how this technology can affect the entire world — including bringing much-needed improved communications to the most remote locations.

Equally as important, for the tech industry as a whole, 6G technology will create some big opportunities. While 6G provides much in the way of opportunity, including intelligent reconfigurable surfaces and software-controlled metasurfaces, much of that hardware doesn’t yet exist. Materials needed include graphene and meta materials, which will be used for thermal, optical, electrical applications and electronics.

Some early industry players in the 6G space include Nokia, who heads project Hexa-X, the European Commission’s flagship 6G research initiative, and Ericsson, who will manage the technical aspects of the program. Other partners (today anyway) include Siemens, Intel, Telefonica, TIM, and Orange.

Bottom line, 6G technology will have a big impact on devices, the market, and on communications and while we’re a ways away from the realities of 6G, it’s exciting to think about what’s ahead, and great to see many leaders in Big Tech already making progress and getting involved.

Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.

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