While more than half of the world is yet to get fourth-generation networks, China is breezing past the competition and has already started testing 6G technology.
The country on November 6 successfully launched the world’s first 6G communication test satellite from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi to verify the performance of the sixth generation networks in space. The 6G frequency band will expand from the 5G millimeter wave frequency to the terahertz frequency.
The Asia Times quoted an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Xu Yangsheng, saying the satellite is the first technical test of terahertz communication’s application in space.
The technology is expected to be over 100 times faster than 5G, enabling lossless transmission in space to achieve long-distance communications with smaller power output, according to China’s Yicai news service.
According to the Chinese telecom experts, the launch of the 6G test satellite marks a breakthrough in the exploration of terahertz space communication technologies in China’s space field. The country has left behind even the US in advancing ultra high-speed communication networks.
While the global mobile operators are engaged in deploying 5G networks, China has leapfrogged into the future with the testing of 6G communication. Globally, only 38 countries are so far using even the 5G networks.
China’s science and technology ministry has formed an expert team to start work on sixth-generation wireless telecom technology research and development, marking the official launch of 6G, according to the Ministry’s website. The Chinese government has already set in motion the R&D projects to explore 6G feasibility and its applications in the nation’s industries.
The various Ministries and academic institutions in the country recently held a 6G technology R&D kick-off meeting in Beijing. These government bureaus appointed a national 6G technology R&D panel at their meeting to drive the project, Yicai reports.
The panel will be led by 37 experts from universities, research institutes and tech companies who are mainly tasked with drafting the 6G research blueprint and conducting technical demonstrations, as well as offering advice on major decisions, according to the Chinese website.
However, the experts argue that 6G technology is still developing and it will need to overcome many hurdles in basic research, hardware design, and its environmental impact before it becomes viable for commercial use.
The 6G technology will involve the use of new frequency ranges, new infrastructure, and enhanced integration of space-air-ground-sea communication technologies, which some scientists worry might affect astronomical instruments or public health, or be too expensive for researchers to use.
The launch of 5G networks had generated significant concern about its effects on human health due to excessive radiation. Although any credible evidence of those assumptions are yet to be tested and until the new generation networks become increasingly common, it’s too early to be sure of their impact on our environment.
China’s telecom companies already lead the world in 5G network infrastructure, with Huawei Technologies setting up its base in many countries. The US may have halted the company’s unstoppable advances across the globe, but due to the lack of cheaper alternatives, those adventures are bound to fail.
Also leading the race in the 5G war is South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, which has emerged as a credible challenger to Huawei to deploy its fifth-generation networks across the globe.
Samsung’s 5G dreams are materializing with the signing of a $6.6 billion contract with USA’s Verizon Communications to supply 5G radio access network equipment to the operator until the end of 2025.
The global network market is currently dominated by Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia, collectively holding a 70% to 80% share, but Samsung has made significant advances this year and may catch up with the competition.
Chinese telecom companies are gearing up to embrace the 6G era, and it’s reached a stage where any country can hardly compete with it. China Unicom and Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE agreed on developing the 6G technologies together.
And with all the indications, the country’s jump into the sixth-generation communication era may not be far.