Forget 5G, What Comes After is Far More Interesting

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Does it feel like you’re living in a more connected world yet? It should, because 5G has arrived Down Under.

Three weeks ago today, Telstra released the first 5G phone on the first 5G network in Australia. Samsung’s had the privilege of winning this tech race with the Galaxy S10 (5G edition).

But, for most of us, this has little bearing at all. In fact, I’m willing to bet most Aussies didn’t even know 5G had kicked off yet. And truthfully, what Telstra is offering pales in comparison to true 5G.

We’ve got to start somewhere though, and this is it.

Fortunately, I can assure you that things will get better from here. Once other carriers start rolling out their own 5G plans we’ll see things start to really pick up — both in terms of availability and speed.

We’re at the cusp of a new era of communications. But how it will all unfold is yet to be determined. Just as 4G popularised streaming, expect 5G to offer up some incredible possibilities in the coming years. Virtual reality and augmented reality are two sectors I’m keeping a very close eye on.

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However, now that 5G is here, as a keen futurist I wonder…what comes next?

Logically, it will almost certainly be 6G, but what does that really mean? Realistically, it is hard to extrapolate beyond our current capabilities. Especially when 5G is still so damn new.

However, that hasn’t stopped some from trying. So today, let’s discuss what comes after our 5G future.

The Future After 5G is Beyond Comprehension

The framework and foundations of 6G are now being prepared by members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the experts whose job it is to envision and bring to life our future of communications.

If their early insights are anything to go by, then things are going to get very wild very quickly.

Right off the bat, phones and broadband internet are deemed almost irrelevant. By the time 6G rolls around, these devices and services will have reached peak maturity. We’ll probably still be using them, they just won’t be improving much in terms of speeds or access.

Instead, the researchers assume that within the next two decades we’ll be using far superior devices. As they note:

When one considers the growth of computational power provided by Moore’s law, it can be seen that the modest price of 1000 USD (the cost of today’s smart phone) will likely be able to purchase a computer with computational capabilities that are on the order of the human brain by the year 2036.

In other words, we’ll have devices that are as a smart as we are. Whether they’ll still be handheld is unclear. Who knows what the future has instore for the design of hardware?

Because of this incredible power, we’re going to need new data sharing capabilities. 5G is good, but not that good. So we’ll need to delve even further into the radio wave spectrum to focus on terahertz frequencies.

I’ll spare you the engineering jargon, and simply tell you that this will be bonkers. VentureBeat summarises it best, stating:

Consequently, opening up the terahertz frequencies will provide gigantic swaths of new bandwidth for wireless use, enabling unthinkable quantities and types of data to be transferred in only a second.

The most relatable one would enable wireless devices to remotely transfer quantities of computational data comparable to a human brain in real time.

So, not only will our devices be as smart as us, they will be able to share a brains worth of data seamlessly between each other. It’s hard to imagine just how incredible that is, but trust me — it will be huge.

Throw in a touch of AI here and there and you can see how things will get even more extraordinary. Needless to say, things are going to get very experimental in the coming decades.

A Never Ending Connection

The big takeaway from 6G (for me at least) is really driving home the idea of constant connection. Specifically between devices, but also between people and devices.

It presents humanity with its first big leap towards blending man and machine. A trajectory that we have already been on for some time, but have yet to bridge some big challenges.

Our phones, for instance, are now basically an extension of us. As much as that pains some people, smart phones really are like a detached limb.

Taken to its extreme, we are even seeing cases of anxiety and stress in people when they are separated from their phones. A phenomenon known as a nomophobia — though there is still debate about the legitimacy of this ‘disorder’.

My point is that technology is becoming integral to who we are. And 6G is going to drive that fact home harder than ever before. We’re heading directly toward a cyborg future.

No doubt that will terrify some people. However, it’s not going to be an overnight transformation. It will be a natural progression of incremental advancements.

Still, no one really knows when or how all of this will pan out. There are practically an infinite number of possibilities to what the future could look like. All we can really do is plan the framework around which it is based.

For now, each of us should just be happy that 5G is here. It’s going to be an exciting couple of years watching this technology mature and develop. We’re bound to see a range of new trends emerge because of it.

And then, when the time comes, we’ll be ready for the next great leap. A future where 6G lets us explore a world that seems alien to us now.

Hopefully, like me, you can’t wait to be a part of it.


Ryan Clarkson-Ledward,
Contributing Editor, Money Morning

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About Ryan Clarkson-Ledward

Ryan Clarkson-Ledward is an Editor at Money Morning.

Ryan holds degrees in both communication and international business. He helps bring Money Morning readers the latest market updates, both locally and abroad. Ryan tackles all the issues investors need to know about that the mainstream media neglects.

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