The introduction of 5G telecoms networks may still only be partly under way, but Samsung has already drawn up a plan with the use, cases and possible timeframe for 6G.
The world’s biggest smartphone and memory chip manufacturer said it expected the International Telecommunication Union to define a 6G vision next year, and forecasts the completion of standards and early commercialisation by 2028, with widespread introduction by 2030.
“While it is still quite important to work to ensure commercial success of 5G in coming years, we believe it is the right time to start preparing for 6G ... shaping will require many years, as we have seen with previous generations in the past,” the South Korean company said.
Over the years, the time spent for defining vision and developing technical standards for each successive generation has shortened, the company said. For instance, the timeline from standards setting to deployment for 3G took 15 years, while 4G took eight years. The timeline for 6G will be "eight years or shorter", the company said.
The company has identified four major trends that will propel the development of a 6G network – connected machines, the use of artificial intelligence in wireless communication, the openness of mobile communications and making it easier to achieve social goals.
“It is reasonable to expect 6G to satisfy unprecedented requirements and expectations that 5G cannot meet. 6G will provide ultimate experience for all through hyper-connectivity involving humans and everything,” Samsung said.
Samsung said as the number of connected devices grows exponentially, they will become the dominant users of 6G communications.
“We expect new 6G technologies have to be developed specifically to connect hundreds of billions of machines,” it added.
The number of connected devices is projected to reach 500 billion by 2030, which will be about 59 times larger than the expected world population of 8.5 billion by that time, according to two different reports by Cisco and the UN.
The explosive growth in the number of connected devices will require 6G to support about 10 million devices per square kilometre, almost ten times larger than the connection density of 5G.
A 5G network promises an internet speed of up to 1.2 gigabits per second, which will gradually reach 10Gbps – more than 100 times faster than 4G.
However, to deliver advanced multimedia experiences, such as truly immersive virtual and augmented reality as well as digital replicas and holograms, 6G will aim to provide peak data speeds of up to 1,000Gbps.
Most of the operators started offering 5G connectivity last year and they are still in the initial stages of network rollout.
At a total cost of $700 billion to $900bn (Dh2.6 trillion to Dh3.3tn), the initial installations of 5G will cover only 25 per cent of the world's population by 2030, or about 2 billion people, according to a report from consulting firm McKinsey in February.
It predicted the coverage will be focused largely in wealthy and developed areas in the US, Europe and China.
Industry experts said considering AI right from the initial phase of developing 6G will allow operators to better use the technology to improve overall network operations, specifically in the areas of performance and cost.
There will be new, advanced services in 6G era, which require a tremendous amount of real-time data processing, a hyper-fast data rate and extremely low latency. This will potentially make the whole telecoms system more vulnerable to security and privacy threats, said Samsung.
“AI will be embedded in all components of 6G that will allow them to access and evaluate a massive amount of real-time information," the paper said. However, it warned "there may not be enough verification against possible security attacks”.
In addition, user devices can be hacked that could weaken the security of the whole telecommunication system and the services accessed by users.