Oh God, They're Already Talking About 6G
I mean, it has to happen. Network technologies take years to develop, and are often planned a decade in advance. But 5G isn't even baked yet. The 5G radio network won't be properly specified until October 2018, and there's a whole 5G standards plan called "IMT-2020," which won't be rolled out until 2020. We're expecting 5G networks in the US to launch between 2019 and 2024.
Source: Sascha Segan
Yes, I know AT&T and Verizon are deploying "5G" fixed wireless this year; it's best to think of that as hopefully-forward-compatible pre-5G. But apparently 5G is too boring now.
"Eventually we'll get to 6G. Yes, we're thinking about that a little bit," Matt Grob, Qualcomm's CTO told me last week.
And then this happened. I know Sherif really well (he's one of Qualcomm's modem marketing experts), so he's sort of joking, but he's also sort of not.
What is "6G?" Nobody knows. Not even Sherif. There is no 3GPP 6G calendar, because 6G wouldn't even get specified until the 2020s, at which point it could involve technologies that haven't even been invented yet. Quantum computing? LiFi? Wormholes? It's anyone's guess.
Obviously, people are going to want to know about 6G, the way people want to know about the iPhone 10. Some of those people are investors who want to know where to make the long bets. Some of these people want their own technologies included. Some of them are just into the future.
We're going to hear a lot about 5G at Mobile World Congress, coming up next week. 4G LTE even still has a long glide path, with at least 10 years of life remaining. But 6G? It's good to know that people are planning for the future, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.