What does the future hold for 5G and 6G?

If 6G meets expectations, it could mean things like smart home networks and the introduction of automated cars become a reality far sooner than expected.

Guest author

February 20, 2023

5 Min Read
What does the future hold for 5G and 6G?

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Colin Bauer and Roger Nichols, of Keysight Technologies, offer a look into where the mobile market is headed.

The implementation of 5G networks is well underway, a billion connections took place in 2022, but the industry is already exploring 6G and that future isn’t far away. 6G is the next generation of wireless networks and with cloud-based technologies enabling an intelligent and programmable network with higher speeds and lower latency it could transform how the world connects. If 6G meets expectations, it could mean things like smart home networks and the introduction of automated cars become a reality far sooner than expected.

What to expect from 6G (and 5G) in 2023 (and beyond)…

Gen Z & Younger is the 6G Sweet Spot 

Ever used a Blackberry? Then 6G is not for you. The network is being built and set up for those currently 25 and under. These individuals are digital natives, and they have no reservations about participating in virtual groups or sharing everything online. In 2023 and beyond, expect to see more discussion about how these younger generations will be monetized in 6G.

6G Will Foster a More Geographically Inclusive World—But it Comes at a Cost 

Rural areas and remote industries like rail, offshore drilling, or broad mining will benefit from the enhanced connectivity of 6G. In addition, the network’s ultra-low latency will further accelerate high-speed finance. But these and other revolutionary 6G benefits will come at a cost, as the technology will be far more expensive than its predecessors. Given this, you can expect adoption disparities.

Spectrum Challenges a Gatekeeper to Further Network Innovation 

6G is coming and, while much work remains to actualize its potential, we have enough bandwidth to make it happen. But the industry is running short on spectrum, which will ultimately become a barrier to future technologies. As such, expect the 2030s to focus disruptive innovation in solving the spectrum challenges in order to allow future networks to thrive.

The Growth of 5G FR2 and mmWave

Expect to see 5G FR2 and mmWave frequency bands grow in 2023 but still modest. Why? Because more improvements are still required in the standard as well as continued reductions in the cost of deployment.

Rel Capabilities to Release Full Potential of 5G

The current misplaced criticism about 5G not meeting expectations will begin to temper in the year ahead given the growing deployment of Rel-16 and early deployment of Rel-17 capabilities. These will enable the fuller realisation of the original 5G vision in 2023.

ITU to Publish Figures for 6G Vision Work

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will release the radio figures of merit for 6G as part of the ITU-R WP-5D 6G vision work. This will lay the groundwork for the targets that the industry must meet for the specifications to be worthy of IMT-2030.

Looking further ahead

Arrival of 6G Opens the Door to New Mobile Network Operators

The tier-one mobile network operators in the US have enjoyed a relatively stable market, but that is poised to change with the arrival of 6G. Similar to how Google Fiber enabled the company to enter into the ISP landscape, I think we’ll see Amazon, Microsoft, or another member of Big Tech capitalise on 6G to become a new tier one mobile network operator.

New Olympic Sport: The Metaverse 

The 2028 Los Angeles Olympic games will welcome a 6G showcase to the global stage. As a worldwide Olympic partner, expect Samsung to unveil a 6G deployment which will be a pivotal part of how viewers consume events. For example, you can expect one of the two Opening Ceremonies to happen in the metaverse.

The metaverse will also feature prominently in the user experience, enabling fans to participate in some Olympic events. We’ll also see certain sports and, potentially, eSports run a 6G Metaverse Olympics in parallel with the actual Games, with at least one medal awarded within the metaverse. As brands draw inspiration from the Olympics, there will be an increase of 6G use cases driven by these first clear views in 2028.

And what not to expect…

Established Standards

Standards work will not start on 6G in 2023, and it is not likely to start in 2024, either. This is not a bad thing, 6G is in research and there is plenty of 5G standards work to be completed before the first study items for 6G begin.

Use Case Scenarios

Don’t expect an agreement on the killer use-case scenario for 6G in 2023, this will take time and is some way off as things stand.

It’s a No to FR2 For China

China will wait until at least 2024 before allocating the FR2 Spectrum.

6G has the potential to revolutionise how we work, live and consume information. By preparing for the 6G network now businesses can ensure they are ready to advantage of this new technology and make the future a reality.


Keysight-Roger-Nichols-150x150.jpgRoger Nichols’ 37 years of engineering and management experience in wireless design and measurement at Hewlett-Packard, Agilent, and Keysight Technologies spans roles in R&D, marketing, and manufacturing. He has managed projects, programs, and departments beginning with analog cellular radio and on every subsequent standard evolving to 6G. He directed Keysight’s 5G program starting in 2014 and has been directing Keysight’s 6G program since its inception in 2019. He is a member of the FCC Technical Advisory Council and is also the director of Keysight’s work in wireless standards. Roger holds a BSEE from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Colin-Bauer-Headshot-150x150.jpgColin Bauer is a Market Initiative Manager at Keysight Technologies. He covers the wireless communications industry, and quantum computing in the Americas. Colin has spent ten years as a marketer in the test and measurement industry, focusing on wireless infrastructure prototyping, software-defined radios, and edge-to-core testing. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.  


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