GP Insights

GP Insights # 210, 4 January 2020

6G Technology: China is an Early Bird
Harini Madhusudhan

What happened?
A recent opinion article in the China Daily titled, 'the global race is on for 6G technology research and commercial use' mentions the need for the technology. 

Through a series of interviews with experts of various industries, the author highlights that, despite the initial steps, it has numerous challenges that it could face. There is no universally accepted definition of 6G even. Two significant risks would be: data security and costs. The article also questions how it might affect the existing infrastructure, public health and long-term sustainability. 

What is the background?
In November 2019, China's Ministry of Science and Technology announced that China would enter the 6G race. Where the technology is expected to support one terabyte per second speeds, it said the technology would commercially be launched by 2030. In 2019, there have been media reports indicating that China Telecom, Huawei and China Unicorn and a few telecommunication providers in the US, Russia and Europe have been conducting research related to 6G technology. In a white paper released in November 2019, China announced that it had established two offices - one dedicated for policy-making and the other to work on the technicalities. 

One of the goals of the 6G Internet would be to support 'one-microsecond latency communications.' Its value addition would be to the areas of imaging, presence technology and location awareness. It will also have known impacts on government and industry solutions in critical asset protection and public safety. The benefits include the following: facial recognition, air quality measurements, health monitoring, gas and toxicity testing. 

What does it mean?
Mobile phone technology has become a primary factor of global political competition. Telecommunication technologies, paired with computing infrastructure and big data, play a crucial role in China's scientific projects. 

China's race to 6G technology shows Beijing's vision to the future and 6G necessarily is targeted to fulfil the capacity and latency promise of 5G with the required architectural shifts and AI. 

Artificial Intelligence is at the core of the 6G technology, and with China leading in the R&D of both, it may be the early bird that gets the more significant chunk of the bread despite all contentions. However, to reach 1Tbps in the real world, it would mean that many security threats could happen before it is predicted or could go unchecked. 

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