6G technology

While US telco and aviation companies bicker about 5G deployment, several Asian countries are already planning 6G technology (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)

India, Vietnam and Singapore are joining the 6G technology race

6G technology is the next big buzzword when it comes to connectivity. With the first commercial launches of 6G networks expected to happen towards the end of the decade, several countries have already begun research and development on 6G technology.

China, which was the first country to launch the world’s first 6G satellite into space in 2020, recently announced a breakthrough in 6G technology. The government-backed Purple Mountain Laboratories said a research team had achieved 6G-level wireless transmission with speeds up to 206.25 gigabits per second for the first time in a lab environment.

According to reports by CGTN, the recorded speed was about 10-20 times faster than those of most 5G networks, a breakthrough for terahertz (THz) wireless communication. Lead researcher You Xiaohu highlighted the importance of THz transmission technologies for 6G networks, noting its potential when used with augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), the metaverse, and other currently developing technologies.

With China’s new developments in 6G technology, other countries in Asia are also now joining the race for supremacy in wireless communication. Unfortunately, the US which hopes to compete with China in 6G is still facing numerous challenges in implementing 5G technologies as well. The 5G deployment in the country has been delayed several times after concerns the network deployment may have on certain aircraft equipment.

Interestingly, three other countries that are hoping to achieve some breakthrough in 6G technology are Singapore, India, and Vietnam. Singapore’s 6G plans are part of a US$ 50 million program announced last year. The Future Communications Research and Development Program is part of Singapore’s solutions for building a more resilient digital economy.

Part of the program is a 6G flagship coordinated effort with the Finland’s University of Oulu on research and development collaboration on 6G technology. While it is still early days for Singapore, their interest in 6G showcases the potential the country has to offer in the years to come.

The University of Oulu is also collaborating with Jio Estonia, a subsidiary of India’s Jio Platforms to explore digital opportunities in 6G technology, Jio Platforms already has an active development program for its 5G RAN and Core Platforms. This collaboration not only extends Jio’s 5G capabilities in exploring use cases in the 6G era but also builds India’s presence in the 6G technology race.

This includes 6G-enabled products in the defense, automotive, white goods, industrial machinery, consumer goods, efficient manufacturing, novel personal smart device environments, and experiences such as urban computing and autonomous traffic settings.

In November last year, India’s Minister for Communication Ashwini Vainshaw said the subcontinent aims to launch indigenously developed 6G technology by the end of 2023 or early 2024. Vaishnaw said requisite permissions have already been given to scientists and engineers working on the technology.

“6G development has already started. That will be seen somewhere in the time frame 2024 or end-2023. That is the direction in which we are going. We will have designed in India telecom software for running the networks, manufactured in India telecom equipment, served in India telecom networks which can go global,” he was reported saying.

Interestingly, Vietnam is now the latest country that plans to work on developing 6G technology. Vietnam’s Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung told a conference in Hanoi that the country will focus on the development of 6G in 2022 to get ahead of the development curve as well as strengthen its digital infrastructure.

“Vietnam is to quickly develop its digital infrastructure and technologies to become one of the world’s leading nations in digitalization with a vision for future development of the technology and meet the demand for skilled workers in the field,” said the minister.

According to reports, Vietnam is one of the world’s first ten countries to set up a 6G research development committee. The country has set a target of 6G frequencies being licensed by 2028 before moving on to its commercial rollout.

While it may be a while before the full commercialization of 6G is available, the reality is, innovation in wireless technology is picking up the pace. Countries that have yet to enable 5G technologies will only end up being left behind if they do not pick up the pace. For now, it seems that China, India, Vietnam, and Singapore are going all out to make a mark in 6G technology not only in Asia but globally as well.