6G and the quantum internet

If you’re in the telecoms world, you likely hear something about 5G at least 100,000 times every day. But, as with anything technology-related, you’ve got to keep on looking at what’s next. And if 5G is on the bubble, it can mean that 6G is looming in the distance.

But, other than the thing that comes after 5G, what pray tell is 6G? We’ll start with quantum computing. Once Moore’s Law hits its ceiling, the industry at large will have to come up with a new way to power computing. At a very high-level, we replace the 1s and 0s with something called qubits (quantum bits), which draw on complex quantum mechanical complex like superposition and entanglement.

In an interview with RCR Wireless News during CES 2019, Boingo Wireless CTO Derek Peterson, who was participating in a panel discussion on the topic of 6G, said qubits would fundamentally alter not just the transmission of information but also the way those transmissions are secured. That ties back into superposition, which speaks to things like wave/particle duality and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle wherein the location and speed of a particle can both be measured just not at the same time.

Peterson, acknowledging the nascency of the 6G discussion as well as the sheer complexity and strangeness of quantum mechanics, said this next generation of communications get well-beyond the physics principles of classic RF thought and into something totally new that could be tapped to facilitate ready communications between Earth and a Mars colony for instance.

Cisco’s CTO of Service Provider Networking Michael Beesley also took part in the CES panel. In an interview with ZDNet, Beesley said, “The 6G topic is an interesting one; from a technological innovation development point of view, it’s still very much in basic research. It’s a long, long, long way away. We do kind of understand what its characteristics and its abilities roughly will be in terms of the amount of bandwidth, the reduction in latency, the densification of the network, the coverage.”

IBM is heavily invested in R&D related to quantum computing. For a bit of a primer on the topic, check out this site. 



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