While 5G is not available in most of the parts of the world, the geopolitical war is already brewing between the United States and China for 6G dominance. Developing the sixth-generation (6G) technology has been deemed of crucial importance, the first country to do so is anticipated to be the leader of the next industrial revolution.
6G, which is expected to be 100 times faster than 5G, may take at least 10 years to develop and patent. The technology is pictured as a super-technology that has been often portrayed in science fiction such as a real-time hologram, flying cars and neuro-technological brains. There now stands a fierce technological rivalry between the US and China that may be attributed to the next cold war.
“This endeavour is so important that it’s become an arms race to some extent,” Peter Vetter, head of access and devices at Nokia’s research arm Bell Labs said. “It will require an army of researchers on it to remain competitive.”
Despite the Trump administration’s several attempts to resent Chinese technology firms, such as banning Huawei and ZTE, China still thrived as a 5G giant. Huawei’s attractive pricing bargained with most countries to buy its 5G devices. 6G innovation is an opportunity for the US to dethrone China and lead the wireless technology.
The US’s ambition and need of leading 6G technology are also reflected by the tweet made by ex-president Trump in early 2019. He wanted the ultrahigh-speed technology “as soon as possible”.
“Unlike 5G, North America will not let the opportunity for a generational leadership slide by so easily this time,” Vikrant Gandhi, senior industry director of information and communications technologies at consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan in the US, said. “It is likely that the competition for 6G leadership will be fiercer than that for 5G.”
China has already started pressing the accelerator to lead the race. Last November, it set out a satellite to test airwaves for 6G transmission, and Huawei started a 6G research center in Canada. Furthermore, telecom giant, ZTE has also partnered with China Unicom Hong Kong for 6G development and innovation. China plans to introduce 6G around 2029.
As for the US, it has also started its pursuit in the 6G race. The US Alliance for Telecommunication Industry Solutions (ATIS) launched the Next G Alliance back in October to “advance North American leadership in 6G”. Apple, AT&T, Qualcomm, Google and Samsung are the members of the alliance.
Besides the two powerhouses, other countries are also eager to develop 6G technology that has a potential rate of 1 terabyte per second and latency of 0.1 milliseconds. South Korea has revealed it will invest $11.7 billion in 2021 to develop a digital economy including 6G. Similarly, Japan plans to allocate $9.6 billion for developing technologies such as 6G. European countries such as Finland, UK, Germany, and Russia also have initiated their respective projects in 6G development.
With several countries desperate to bring forth 6G technology, it is evident that the technology is launching in a decade or so. But who is going to be the first one is still a big question. As for now, the race is on.