With the emergence of Web3 and the rapid pace of global digitalisation, 5th generation internet (5G) rollouts are continuing to meet demand throughout the world. In ASEAN, Thailand is already experiencing digital barriers melting and potential economic growth as a result of quicker, and more reliable internet connectivity. However, as is standard with technology, the next big thing, 6G, is  in the works and will most likely become a reality by the end of this decade. Hailed as the next connectivity leap, upcoming 6G trends and potential applications are creating a new buzz in the sector. 

NGMN Alliance, located in Germany, recently published a white paper titled 6G Drivers And Vision. It described how they, as well as their partners and stakeholders in the communications technology sectors, envision connectivity evolving. They examined the primary drivers, requirements and applications of the improved network, as well as the scope and methodology for the coming years. 

APAC is pulling ahead in IoT and 5G investments

Motivation and goals

The white paper identifies three main drivers for the evolution of 6G technology. These are: 

  1. Societal goals: to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by supplying equitable access to technology globally
  2. Market expectations: to meet the needs of consumers for faster and more cost-effective technology
  3. Operational necessities: to create high-performance mobile networks using efficient and sustainable planning, distribution, operations and oversight 

These goals aim to usher in the creation of a 6G global ecosystem as a tool for providing access to high-quality internet services in every corner of the world. It is feasible to foster technological and economic growth in even the most remote regions by providing everyone on the earth with access to stable, high-speed networks, something that 5G technology appears to have overlooked, according to VMware’s Kaniz Mahdi. 

Expected technological advances

Much discussion in the tech sector right now is about the Metaverse and how it will affect society. While this improved virtual experience will most definitely have an impact on the globe in the next few years, many of its more far-reaching ramifications may not be apparent until 6G becomes a reality. 

One accessory under development is enhanced communication tools, such as holographic technology, which bridges geographical barriers between individuals while conversing through their mobile phones. This ability to communicate more intimately and add a physical element to virtual communication will be a game-changer for many people, especially those with visual or sensory impairments. 

In fact, 6G connectivity will usher in an era of communication and experiences through the Internet of Senses. Applications that allow people with food allergies to simulate the taste of forbidden foods or that improve the flavour for those with taste difficulties may appear frivolous right now. They may, however, allow food manufacturers to test products with virtual audiences in the future. 

Future technology will improve machine-to-machine connectivity in tandem with the goal of improving human-to-human communication. Another important aspect of the study is the possibility of expanded Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities and the implementation of robotic services. 

While 6G technology aims to deliver ubiquitous coverage in an energy-efficient manner, it will also have greater mapping precision, both environmentally and in the human body. When used during natural or man-made disasters, this will clearly benefit emergency service responses and efficiency. 

Southeast Asia: a 6G hub

Vietnam and Singapore have begun to fund research and development projects in the 6G sphere, with deployment planned for the 2030s. The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in Vietnam has established a 6G committee to create a roadmap for the evolution and distribution of the technology. 

Through the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), the Singaporean government is funding the $50 million USD Future Communications Research and Development Programme. As the country tries to become a Smart Nation and Digital Economy, the initiative attempts to identify answers to digital connection issues (SNDE).

The countries that are currently forming the next generation of connectivity are focusing on requirements first approach. As with the previous iterations, meeting the technology’s basic demands first creates opportunities and leads to continued unanticipated advances and uses. Technological breakthroughs and innovative ideas will determine how it evolves in the future. 

The research looks to be ahead of schedule, thanks to the implementation of lessons learnt on the way to 5G, and optimism about levels of worldwide collaboration appears justifiable. If the communications technology community of operators, vendors and other stakeholders continue to work together towards bringing 6G to the market, the predicted deployment date of 2030 appears increasingly plausible. 

While there is still much work to be done from a variety of perspectives, including technological advancement, issues surrounding monetisation and competition are emerging. With considerable research and development taking place in China, India, Vietnam and Singapore, the upcoming 6G trends will be more Asia-centric than any prior technological innovation.