What is 6G and why is it important?

6G services are expected to be available by 2030 and promise speeds up to 100 times faster than 5G ones. PHOTO: UNSPLASH

SINGAPORE - Singapore is developing a new national blueprint to throw its hat into 6G developments to stay in the global digital race. What is 6G and how is it superior to predecessor technologies such as 5G and 4G? The Straits Times’ tech editor Irene Tham looks at the mobile evolution and what each upgrade can do for users here.

Benefits of 5G

5G mobile technologies provide connectivity on the move for artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Together, 5G and AI are expected to stage the next industrial revolution to welcome new realities such as self-driving cars, remote surgery and smart cities complete with smart power grids, e-surveillance and payments by facial scans. Nations with these technologies hold the keys to the future.

By building its network on dedicated 5G gear instead of piggybacking on existing 4G technologies, Singapore is able to perform “network slicing”, which guarantees the security of applications such as remote port operations.  The technology is also able to connect 1,000 times as many devices as 4G networks without any transmission lag – key for driverless car navigation and remote surgery.

To date, dozens of 5G commercial projects have received government funding, allowing more 5G-enabled robots to roam the shop floor of factories and ports, as well as patrol streets and coastal waters.

Benefits of 6G

6G services are expected to be available by 2030 and promise speeds up to 100 times faster than 5G ones, and with significantly less transmission lag. Laboratory tests in China have already achieved speeds of around 200Gbps (gigabits per second).

6G networks are also said to have the potential to make the digital and physical world indistinguishable through holographic telepresence, as well as augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) technologies.

What’s more, 6G networks could deliver the promise of edge computing, where data processing is done by hardware mounted on, for example, a lamp post close to the user of a self-driving car or a pair of VR glasses, rather than in a data centre located far away. This also means the driverless car or the VR glasses need not be too bulky.

Evolution of telco services in singapore

2005 - Debut of 3G services

All three telcos, Singtel, StarHub and M1, launched commercial 3G services that offered consumers the ability to make video calls, watch streaming video clips and surf the Internet at speeds of up to 7.2 megabits per second (Mbps) for the first time.

2012 - 4G services launched

All three telcos launched their 4G services here, offering surfing speeds of up to 150Mbps. The cellular architecture for 4G networks departs from that of 3G and 2G. Being completely architected in standards for data communications, 4G is said to be built for streaming videos.

2021 - 5G services rolled out

Singapore was among the first countries in the world to have rolled out 5G services based on the latest dedicated 5G gear. On 5G networks, surfing speeds can go beyond 1Gbps. This means users can download 4K movies in under 100 seconds.

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