2022 will be a watershed year for wireless technology, as advances in 5G and 6G promise new levels of connectedness.
FREMONT, CA: In a world that is becoming increasingly connected, the demand for data and network capacity has become the driving force behind wireless technology innovation. As 5G technology development progresses, networked systems will continue to increase complexity and reliance on one another. This increased connection challenges wireless capacity improvement across all bands, from sub-1 GHz to mmWave and beyond.
While technical groups continue to address 5G’s speed and capacity limitations, 6G research and development are well underway, promising entirely new use cases. 2022 will be a watershed year for important wireless technology advances, including the following:
Increased speed above 4G enabled via mid-band: The implementation of 5G mmWave was highly anticipated, as it promised faster data speeds than ever before. However, 5G mmWave deployment has been slower than anticipated. Additionally, high population areas experienced inconsistency in speed, bandwidth, and latency. In 2022, carriers (and the 5G ecosystem as a whole) will continue to prioritize investments in mid-band and take a more cautious approach to mmWave. While mid-band does not offer the massive speed boost that mmWave offers, customers will benefit from more widely available incremental gains over 4G.
Early Sub-THz research will continue as a foundational technology for 6G, promising significantly greater bandwidths. Researchers will need to demonstrate feasibility and compelling new use cases to convince the industry that this is a priority.
Expansion of 5G-enabled applications: While 5G coverage continues to expand, many sub-6 GHz consumers are not seeing an order of magnitude boost in performance over 4G. This is partly because 4G generally provided adequate performance for consumers and because 5G’s throughput enhancements were primarily achieved through the illusive mmWave network deployments. However, customers are not the main target of 5G.
Carriers will continue to explore novel and intriguing applications for the growing technology in the future. This will spur the development of new applications beyond enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) as Release 16 features for ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) are deployed. URLLC enables time-sensitive applications, the first of which will be seen in industrial IoT applications for factory automation, such as real-time robot control and augmented and virtual reality for maintenance and training. By combining URLLC advancements in Release 16 with private networks, businesses will be able to construct exceptionally dependable, high-performance networks.
As the 3GPP begins work on Release 18, 5G-Advanced will become a hot topic. Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connectivity will remain a top goal for the transportation industry and be critical for developing autonomous cars.
Increased efficiency thanks to GaN and SiC technologies: While achieving higher power-efficient RF Front end performance has always been an objective of the handset and infrastructure design, we are now witnessing a turning point with new process technologies. We continue to witness a continued trend away from silicon (Si) toward gallium nitride (GaN), and silicon carbide (SiC) in RF front ends, driven by cost and performance improvements. This movement will continue to contribute to improving the energy efficiency of a wide variety of devices. This will greatly impact 5G infrastructure, as this innovation benefits power amplifiers. Electronic devices will be impacted by this development and will ultimately benefit from increased battery life.