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Progress moving fast toward 6G revolution

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Experts predict that 6G technology will be made available to the public in 2030 (Screenshot via YouTube)

Terahertz waves are being explored for the development of lightning-fast 6G communication technology that will be an industry game-changer. Paul Budde reports.

THE AUSTRALIAN Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) recently published a paper titled Terahertz use-cases and regulatory models information paper.

The terahertz spectrum refers to frequencies in the range 100-400GHz, but the more practical range will be between 100-275GHz. This part of the electromagnetic spectrum lies between the microwave and infrared regions and has unique properties that make it attractive for various applications, including telecommunications.

At the moment, its use isn’t widespread, mainly in scientific lab tests and trials. By the 2030s, once more commercial equipment becomes available, we will start seeing a wider development. However, 6G-based technologies have the potential to deliver future terahertz use cases and the technology is therefore already on the radar of telecommunications companies.

As with the previous mobile generation, also the next one, 6G will provide enormous efficiency advantages to the use of mobile infrastructure. This on its own will ensure that telcos implement the new technology.

The terahertz spectrum is therefore already being explored by them for its potential to support ultra-high-speed wireless data transfer rates, which could be orders of magnitude faster than current 5G networks. Terahertz waves can carry large amounts of information due to their high frequencies, and they are also less susceptible to interference and attenuation than traditional radio frequencies.

One potential use of the terahertz spectrum in telecoms is for wireless backhaul, which involves connecting cellular base stations to the core network using high-speed links. Terahertz waves could be used to establish high-capacity, low-latency links between base stations and the core network, enabling faster and more reliable data transfer.

Another potential network use of the terahertz spectrum is for short-range communication between devices, such as in the Internet of Things (IoT). Terahertz waves could be used to transmit large amounts of data quickly between devices, which could be useful in applications such as smart homes, factories and cities.

However, 6G will require more mobile towers and other infrastructure than previous generations of wireless communication technology. This is because 6G is expected to operate at much higher frequencies, such as in the terahertz range, which have shorter wavelengths and are more easily blocked by obstacles such as buildings and trees.

On the application side there are a range of new services that will become available through the use of the terahertz spectrum for 6G:

  • Ultra-high-speed wireless data transfer: 6G is expected to offer even faster data transfer rates than 5G, with speeds up to 1 terabyte per second. This could enable new applications and services that require massive amounts of data to be transmitted quickly, such as virtual reality, high-resolution video streaming, and remote surgeries.
  • Low-latency communications: 6G is expected to reduce latency to as low as 1 millisecond, which could enable real-time communication and control for applications such as autonomous vehicles, robotics and telemedicine.
  • Massive Machine-Type Communications: 6G is expected to support up to one million devices per square kilometre, which could enable the widespread deployment of IoT devices and other sensors for applications such as smart cities, smart homes and environmental monitoring.
  • Intelligent networking: 6G is expected to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable intelligent networking that can adapt to changing conditions and optimise performance. This could lead to more efficient use of network resources and improved user experience.
  • Quantum communications: 6G is expected to incorporate quantum technologies to provide secure communications that are resistant to hacking and eavesdropping.
  • Holographic communications: 6G is expected to enable the transmission of holographic images and other advanced forms of immersive communication.

Paul Budde is an Independent Australia columnist and managing director of Paul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBudde.

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