5G wireless networks have begun rolling out across the U.S., promising faster speeds of data transmission — and eventual business innovation. The ability to stream movies and hail a ride occurred when it did because, among other things, wi-fi speed and carrying capacity improved.
It has increased to the point where such things could be fast and convenient, not deadly slow or impossible. The business strategies of Netflix and Uber, among other companies, capitalized on the uses of wi-fi speeds. A yet faster wireless system than the still broadly used 4G is, most industry observers feel, likely to spur similar innovations.
5G Is Still in the Rollout Stage…
Telecommunication companies like AT&T and Sprint have been touting their 5G networks, and consumer products manufacturers have started to roll out 5G products. But, 5G is available only in certain major U.S. cities at this point.
In addition, as PC magazine points out, until it’s more broadly adopted, the system is something of a “beta test.” In short, all the major carriers won’t likely have full-strength 5G until the end of 2019 or early in 2020.
…But Here Comes 6G
But Wired has recently noted that buzz about 6G wi-fi has already started. A major Samsung phone, for example, advertises itself as 6G compatible in recent technology news. If 5G’s broad rollout is still in the future, how can 6G be coming up so close behind?
Some nomenclature and industry history can answer this question. The “G” in all of these rollouts stands for “generation.” 3G was followed by 4G, just as 4G is being followed by 5G.
6G speeds, which will be yet faster and more capacious, are coming soon.
But behind the scenes of consumer terminology, there’s a more complicated nomenclature set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), which sets wi-fi standards. Standards are developed and rolled out approximately every half-decade.
Wired helpfully points out that the standard in wide use currently is known as IEEE 802.11ac; the new one will be IEEE 802.11ax. Not something every consumer needs to know, but the point is: new radio frequencies are pretty constantly in stages of development. Devices are certified for the new standards by an industry group, the Wi-Fi Alliance, which includes most device manufacturers.
Will 6G Drive Innovation?
More pertinently, Wired observes that Wi-Fi 6 is going to be necessary for the proliferation of connected devices, in businesses, governments, and consumer households. It is intended more for the enhancement of networks than the improvement of the consumer experience.
Like Wi-Fi 5, though, it will make data transmission to and between these devices yet faster, broader, and more convenient. It is expected to make data transmission as much as four times faster and increase capacity by up to four times. It, too, will likely spur innovation.
What type of innovation might it drive? That remains to be seen. While both 3G and 4G drove innovation, there was a lag time between their introduction and the creation of products that utilize the faster speeds and enhanced connectivity.
PC forecasts that it will be two or three years between wide adoption and product launches based on or enabled by new wireless generations. When 6G rolls out widely, the first primary difference consumers may see is the overarching presence of the connected devices on the Internet of Things.