While internet users are only just getting to grips with 5G – and while much of the crucial infrastructure required to support the fifth generation of mobile networks is still being built – Chinese engineers have reportedly set a new world record after transmitting a terabyte of data in one second, using 6G.
Working out of the University of Tsinghua’s Aeronautical Engineering School, the group of researchers smashed 5G transmission speeds, which average roughly 20Gb/s, by as much as 5 000% when they managed to move the massive chunk of data to a receiver a kilometre away.
The introduction of ‘millimeter vortex’ wave technology has “added a new dimension” to mobile transmission, according to Zhang Zhao, project leader and professor at Tsinghua.
The ultra-high frequency radio waves are capable of transmitting 10 000 HD videos in unison, all live. The astounding speed of 6G lies in the make-up of the vortex waves it employs.
At present, mobile phones use electromagnetic waves to transmit a signal which can be observed by the receiver in two dimensions, represented by each peak and valley of the wave. Millimetre vortexes do not resemble 2D waves. Rather, they more closely resemble a tornado or cyclone with three dimensions.
Fully realising vortex wave technology was not without its challenges. One of the most difficult puzzles posed to Zhang and his team was trying to reduce the substantially larger waves. Increasing wave sizes resulted in weakened signals and slowed times.
To combat this problem, Zhang opted for a single transmitter that created a vortex wave with three modes of rotation. Transmitting data in this manner enables receivers to decode massive amounts of information almost instantaneously.
Speaking with the media, a researcher close to the project said breaking the world record was the product of China’s significant edge in the field, after significant investment into the industry over the last decade. Another added that the massively increased speeds and added dimension opened up many future possibilities.
China currently holds the vast majority of 6G-related patents at 40%, followed by fellow tech powerhouses the US (35%) and Japan (10%).
For now, Chinese telecoms firms are focusing on rolling out 5G infrastructure. In fact, 6G may not find average consumers until the 2030s, with the majority of its application expected in the fields of research, science and strategic military operations.