China casts an eye on 6G technology

07 January 2019 | James Pearce

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With 5G deployments only in the most formative stages in most markets, researchers in China have already started research into what comes next – the sixth generation of mobile communications – according to reports

The Asia Times claims that engineers and telecoms companies in China are ramping up research and funding into 6G, despite the fact that commercial 5G has only been deployed in a handful of markets.

A number of Chinese universities and technical institutions are launching partnerships aimed at pooling both talents and resources for the next generation of mobile technologies, with the aim of deployments before 2030.

You Xiaohu, director of the National Mobile Communications Research Lab at the Southeast University in Nanjing, told news agency Xinhua that 6G will cover a wider range of fields than 5G, offering higher speeds and greater security.

Early research and development will mainly focus on intelligent mobile communications, massive wireless communications, millimeter wave/submillimeter wave wireless communications, optical wireless communications and broadband satellite mobile communications.

According to the Asia Times report, China is looking at gearing up its conceptual development and even early trials of 6G communications as early as next year in an attempt to lead the conversation around definitions and standards. Initial work being carried out is looking at potential applications for 6G.

"There's still a long way to go in applying 6G technologies into our daily life. Experts predict that 6G technologies will go into commercial operation by 2030. However, the 6G competition has already begun among many enterprises," You said.

China has reportedly outspent the US on research into wireless technologies by around $24 billion since 2015. Yet China Mobile is not expected to launch precommercial 5G trials until later this year, with commercialisation due in 2020, according to VP Li Huidi in November.

Two major US telcos - Verizon and AT&T – said they had switched on their commercial 5G networks at the end of 2018, although there are currently no mobile phones available to use with 5G networks – these are expected to launch later this year.