Apple is investing in 6G, but it doesn’t matter (yet)

Apple is investing in next-generation 6G technology development. Why? What for? And should we get excited yet?

What is 6G?

With most iPhone users only now making use of 5G, it seems way too early to make much fuss about the next fast wireless standard — particularly as the standard hasn’t been developed and is far from being finalized.

We can’t really say what 6G is, because it hasn’t been removed from the oven. But we can talk about some of the ingredients Apple and others on the 6G standards development bodies are pouring into their network kitchen bowl.

In other words, 6G right now is an R&D project and nowhere near becoming a functioning technology. Even Verizon CTO Kyle Malady said in December: “I really don’t know what the hell 6G is.”

We do know it isn’t here yet, but….

What about industry expectation?

It’s difficult to ignore hype when you’re discussing a standard that hasn’t been created yet and may not actually appear for another decade, but we’ll try to articulate it in one sentence: The U.S., China, and Europe are all focusing on development of the standard because all three powers want at least some control over how it evolves.

(South Korea and Japan are also exploring the space.)

Think about how 5G has ended up in the hands of a small number of players and the bad blood around Huawei. None of these stakeholders want to repeat that mistake. This suggests we’ll see a lot of money poured into 6G development to support perceived national interest.

What about the money?

“6G communications may become an even bigger business than the 5G that is now rolling out worldwide,” wrote IDTechEx analyst Raghu Das. “For both 5G and 6G, the software, hardware and materials opportunities are enormous. Despite this, only some of the giants are successfully participating.”

So, you have the political commitment, interest from the military industrial and space exploration complexes, and all the opportunity that comes from developing new hardware and materials processes.

No wonder Apple (and everyone else) is interested.

You can smell the money. IDTechEx claims more than $1 billion has already been invested in the space.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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