The UK missed out on becoming one of the first countries to embrace the new 4G LTE technology, allowing speeds of over 100Mbps on mobile devices. In order to not miss out on another major step, the UK government is actually investing two steps ahead in 6G, with a £15 million investment in quantum technology studies.
Quantum technology is the next step after fiber optics in terms of speed, but nobody knows what the actual power of quantum computing is right now. The £15 million investment is a first look into the new wave of science.
“From cameras that can see through smoke to cracking down on internet fraud, quantum technologies are taking innovation to a whole new level and offer an unparalleled opportunity to shape the next generation of high-tech products that will improve our day-to-day lives," Vince Cable, Government Business Secretary, said. "This £15 million investment will ensure we have the flexible, highly-skilled workforce needed to turn these futuristic ideas into a reality.”
It is not an exact investment in 6G networks, but given 5G will already push speeds to 10Gbps, it is highly likely quantum technology will be needed to push the speeds even further ahead.
Several quantum researchers are looking into advancements in computing, including things like quantum chips, batteries and networks. The issue is, quantum physics is still relatively new and needs a lot of research before any definites are announced.
5G networks are likely to become commercially available by 2020, the same time self-driving cars, drones and augmented reality is said to take off in the United States and Europe.
If we are putting each generation shift in the wireless industry at five years, the 6G networks should be available by 2025. This is quite optimistic however, given the difficulties in making quantum technology cost effective and faster than 5G networks.
That said, in 2010 the idea of 10Gbps on a smartphone would have seemed impossible and ridiculous, but now we are seeing Samsung and countries show off the huge speed increase at labs across the globe.