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China sets data speed record on 6G network

To transmit a terabyte of data in one second, the researchers used high-frequency vortex millimeter waves to move more data with their 3D design.

China claims to have achieved a breakthrough in wireless data transmission over a cellular network, with a record of sending a terabyte of data over a distance of one kilometer in a single second via 6G waves. As the name suggests, it’s the next evolution of a global cellular connectivity standard that will take over from 5G. Yes, 5G is still far from being widely rolled out, and there are also many lingering issues, such as spotty network reception for its faster mmWave, that need to be addressed.

The situation is a bit like Wi-Fi, where the 6E standard has not yet become mainstream, but MediaTek has already given a live demonstration of the Wi-Fi 7 standard and aims to bring compatible equipment to market in the next two years. Additionally, in November 2020, China made waves when it claimed to have launched “the world’s first 6G satellite” into space to test the technology. The tussle to gain an early lead has already begun, and the first stakeholder demos have already begun to appear.


Related: How to tell if your phone is 5G or not

According to a South China Morning Post report, researchers set up an experimental wireless communication line in January that could handle more than 10,000 high-definition live video streams simultaneously. Experts from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and China Unicom have collaborated on a 6G technology called vortex millimeter wave which uses rapidly rotating high-frequency radio waves for data transmission, reaching speeds of one terabyte per second in a radius of one kilometer. The fundamental building blocks are vortex millimeter waves, which add an extra dimension to radio wave transmission. It’s decades-old technology, but for the first time, an efficient receiver has been designed to realize the true potential of 6G.

Promising, but still far

6G network infrastructure

The report explains that traditional 5G waves travel as two-dimensional waves, where peaks and bases are used to transmit data wirelessly. In the case of vortex millimeter waves, they work more or less like a tornado, adding a third dimension to the mix that can improve communication ability. The central idea is that the rotational or orbital angular momentum (OAM) of these waves allows telecom operators to encode more information, thus potentially solving the problem of spectrum scarcity. “The most exciting thing isn’t just the speed. It’s about introducing a new physical dimension, which can lead to a whole new world with almost limitless possibilities,” one participating researcher was quoted as saying. Unlike 5G and the C-band rush, the team behind the 6G experiment relied on the W-band radio frequency reserved for defense applications.

The promises seem endless, but almost all of the debate around 6G is exclusively about lab testing. No spectrum framework had been established and standardization is still largely limited to documents only. But at a promised speed of around one terabyte per second with a latency of just 0.1 milliseconds, 6G is said to be around 100 times faster than 5G. More importantly, 6G could very well be “the” cellular network standard that can truly fulfill metaverse dreams of an immersive virtual world where body movements can be mirrored in real-time 3D virtual avatars. Industry stalwarts such as Intel Senior Vice President Raja Koduri have recently suggested that today’s internet infrastructure needs a roughly thousand-fold boost to make sense of the lofty promises of the metaverse. However, telecom industry experts expect the commercial deployment of 6G to occur only in the 2030s, at the earliest.

Next: What does 5G UC mean on Android?

Source: South China Morning Post

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