Beyond the Horizon, A Sixth Generation: Deciphering the 6G Paradigm Shift and Crafting a Resilient Strategy for Digital Dominance

by Dick van Schooneveld | 27 Jul 2023

In this insightful piece, Hylman explores the transformative potential of 6G technology, identifying emerging trends, growth opportunities across various sectors, potential risks, and effective mitigation strategies. We delve into the critical success stories and best practices while providing future-focused recommendations for businesses. As a global management consulting firm, Hylman stands uniquely positioned to guide companies through this complex transition, leveraging our deep industry expertise, strategic insights, and a collaborative approach to unlock the immense value of the impending 6G era.

As we immerse ourselves deeper into the digital era, connectivity has taken a central role, shaping our experiences, interactions, and the fabric of society itself. Our global communication infrastructure has evolved at a swift pace, each generational leap introducing revolutionary capabilities and opportunities. Now, as 5G networks are still in their deployment phase, the world is beginning to envision the next frontier - the 6th Generation or 6G wireless technology. 


At a glance, the thought of 6G while we are still unraveling the potential of 5G might seem premature. However, the continual progress in technology and the insatiable demand for better, faster, and more efficient connectivity mandate that we keep one eye on the horizon. Typically, the turnaround time for a new generation of wireless technology is about a decade, which means that if 6G is expected to be deployed in the early 2030s, the time to lay its groundwork is now.


6G, as a conceptual framework at present, promises to usher in a seismic shift in communication technology, marking a new era of ubiquitous connectivity and integrating deeply with sectors like artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT). It is envisioned to deliver extreme performance capabilities like sub-millisecond latency, connection densities in the order of 10 devices/m2, and peak data rates up to 100 Gbps.


As we anticipate and prepare for this transformative future, it's crucial to analyze and understand the upcoming trends, opportunities, challenges, and the overall outlook of the 6G landscape. This understanding will equip businesses, policymakers, and society at large to navigate the evolution effectively and harness the potential that 6G holds. 


In this piece, we delve deeper into these aspects, tracing the emerging contours of 6G, the opportunities it presents across industries, the best practices being followed by leading players, and the potential roadblocks along the path. We will also look at some key success stories that are paving the way towards 6G, present some mitigation strategies for potential risks, and discuss the future outlook for this revolutionary technology.



Key Trends Shaping 6G


1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning


The integration of AI and ML into the network infrastructure will create "intelligent networks" that can self-optimize, self-configure, and self-heal. This involves processes like:


- Network Optimization: AI algorithms will help optimize network operations by analyzing network loads and traffic patterns. They can predict peak usage times and re-allocate resources accordingly, improving overall network performance.


- Predictive Maintenance: AI can help predict network issues before they occur. For example, AI could identify a pattern signaling an imminent network failure, allowing for preemptive actions to prevent service disruption.


- Automated Decision-making: AI can enable automatic decision-making processes in real-time. For example, it can determine the best network routes to ensure efficient data transmission, especially crucial in time-critical applications such as autonomous driving or remote surgery.


2. Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everything (IoE)


6G will be essential to support the surge in IoT and IoE devices, enabling seamless, real-time connectivity and communication. Key areas include:


- Smart Cities: In smart cities, IoT devices provide real-time data on various city aspects, including traffic, pollution levels, energy usage, and infrastructure health. This data aids in city management and helps improve residents' quality of life.


- Industry 4.0: In industrial applications, IoT devices can monitor machine performance, detect anomalies, and trigger maintenance, leading to improved productivity and efficiency.


- Healthcare: IoT devices like wearable sensors can monitor patient health, allowing real-time patient tracking, better diagnostics, and personalized treatment plans.


3. Integrated Terrestrial and Non-Terrestrial Networks


The integration of terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks ensures global connectivity, particularly important in areas without traditional network coverage:


- Global Connectivity: The use of satellite and airborne systems can provide connectivity in remote areas, facilitating digital inclusion and bridging the digital divide.


- Resilience: In events like natural disasters where terrestrial networks may be compromised, non-terrestrial networks can provide alternative communication channels, ensuring network resilience.


- Dense Urban Areas: Integrated networks can also benefit densely populated urban areas, where high demand may overwhelm terrestrial networks.


4. Terahertz (THz) Communications


The use of THz frequencies in 6G opens up new frontiers for wireless communication but also presents unique challenges:


- Ultra-High-Speed Communication: With THz frequencies, data transmission rates could reach up to 100 Gbps or more. This could enable advanced applications like real-time holography or high-definition streaming with zero latency.


- Technological Challenges: However, the use of THz frequencies poses significant technological hurdles. These include the development of THz components and systems, overcoming high path loss, dealing with atmospheric absorption, and mitigating interference.


5. Edge Computing


Edge computing in 6G will facilitate real-time data processing and analysis for latency-critical applications:


- Low Latency: By processing data at the network's edge (closer to where it's generated), edge computing can significantly reduce latency, enabling real-time applications like autonomous vehicles and smart manufacturing.


- Privacy and Security: Edge computing also improves privacy by keeping data closer to the user, reducing the need for data transmission across the network. This is particularly important for applications dealing with sensitive information.



Opportunities with 6G


1. Unprecedented Speed and Capacity


The foremost promise of 6G is to deliver ultra-fast and reliable wireless connections, offering data rates potentially up to 100 times faster than 5G. This will open up several opportunities:


- Enhanced Digital Experiences: With increased speeds, users can enjoy seamless high-definition (HD) video streaming, instantaneous file downloads, and smoother experiences in virtual environments.


- Boost to Existing Markets: High-speed, low-latency networks will invigorate industries like gaming and entertainment. For example, the gaming industry could leverage 6G to offer more immersive and responsive cloud gaming experiences.


- New Industries: The speed and capacity of 6G could enable the emergence of new industries, like holography for communication, which were previously constrained by the limitations of network performance.


2. New Applications and Services


With the expected improvements in latency and capacity, 6G will unlock the full potential of emerging technologies, thus catalyzing the development of new applications and services:


- Immersive Technologies: 6G's high-speed, low-latency network will fuel the growth of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and extended reality (XR) applications. These could range from VR concerts and sports events to AR navigation and shopping.


- Autonomous Vehicles: The ultra-reliable, low-latency communication (URLLC) offered by 6G will enable the proliferation of autonomous vehicles. Real-time data transfer is crucial for the safe and efficient operation of self-driving cars, which 6G can provide.


- Telemedicine: 6G will enhance remote healthcare services, enabling high-quality real-time video consultations, remote patient monitoring, and even remote surgeries. 


3. Empowerment of the Digital Economy


6G will foster the growth of the digital economy by empowering IoT and IoE, leading to the digitization of various industries:


- Smart Cities: With robust 6G networks, cities can become smarter and more efficient. This involves everything from smart traffic lights that adapt to traffic conditions, to intelligent energy grids that optimize power generation and distribution.


- Industry 4.0: In manufacturing, 6G will facilitate the use of connected machinery and AI-powered systems, increasing automation and productivity. 


- Precision Agriculture: In the agricultural sector, IoT devices can monitor soil and weather conditions, crop health, and automate irrigation systems, improving yields and sustainability.


- Smart Homes: In the consumer sector, the proliferation of smart home devices like automated thermostats, security systems, and home appliances will lead to more efficient and comfortable living environments.



Growth and Development 


1. Infrastructure Development


The advent of 6G will necessitate large-scale infrastructure development. This involves setting up new network architectures, deploying small cells for millimeter-wave communications, developing edge computing capabilities, and integrating satellite and terrestrial networks. Companies that specialize in these areas will experience significant growth opportunities.


Moreover, as new use cases emerge, industries will require bespoke infrastructure solutions. For example, autonomous vehicles need roadside network infrastructure for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications, and smart cities require urban IoT infrastructure. This will drive innovation and growth in network infrastructure technologies and services.


2. Technological Advancements


6G will encourage accelerated technological advancement in various fields. For instance, semiconductor companies will need to design chips that can handle higher frequencies and process more data. Similarly, companies working on antenna technologies will need to develop solutions for the unique challenges posed by millimeter-wave and terahertz communications.


In addition, technologies such as AI and Machine Learning will also experience growth as they become more integrated into network operations and services. The development and implementation of AI/ML models for network optimization, predictive maintenance, and automated decision-making will be key growth areas.


3. Market Growth


With the capabilities of 6G, several markets are set to expand. For instance:


- IoT Market: With 6G's ability to support a massive number of connected devices, the IoT market is set to flourish. From consumer devices like wearables and smart home devices to industrial IoT solutions, the market potential is immense.


- AR/VR Market: The low latency and high data rates of 6G will enable more immersive and responsive AR/VR experiences, driving growth in this market.


- Autonomous Vehicles Market: 6G will accelerate the reality of fully autonomous vehicles, driving growth in this sector. This includes not just the vehicles themselves, but also related areas like V2X communication systems, and digital mapping.


- Telehealth Market: Improved connectivity and reliability will enhance telehealth services, driving market growth. This includes teleconsultations, remote patient monitoring, and even remote surgery.


4. Service Providers


Telecom service providers will see opportunities for growth as the demand for 6G connectivity increases. This involves not only providing connectivity but also a range of services tailored to specific use cases. For instance, service providers can offer tailored packages for industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture that cater to their specific needs.



Opportunities across Sectors


1. Healthcare


6G will introduce a wealth of opportunities in healthcare, resulting in a more efficient and patient-centric system:


- Remote Patient Monitoring: With increased IoT device connectivity, healthcare providers can monitor patients remotely, facilitating early detection of potential health issues and personalized treatment plans.


- Telemedicine: High-speed, low-latency 6G networks will enable seamless real-time video consultations, making healthcare access more convenient and inclusive.


- Remote Surgery: With ultra-reliable and responsive networks, complex procedures such as remote surgery can become a reality, allowing specialists to perform operations from anywhere in the world.


2. Manufacturing


The manufacturing sector will benefit significantly from the 6G revolution:


- Smart Factories: High-speed, reliable 6G networks will support the extensive use of IoT devices and AI in factories, automating processes, improving efficiency, and reducing costs.


- Supply Chain Optimization: Real-time tracking of products in transit, predictive maintenance of machinery, and data-driven decision-making will streamline supply chains, leading to significant cost savings and improved customer satisfaction.


3. Transportation


The transportation sector will experience a transformative shift with 6G:


- Autonomous Vehicles: The ultra-reliable, low-latency communication (URLLC) offered by 6G is a crucial requirement for the safe operation of autonomous vehicles. This technology will facilitate real-time data sharing between vehicles and infrastructure, pedestrians, and other vehicles, enabling full autonomy.


- Smart Infrastructure: Real-time traffic data analysis will enable the development of smart transportation systems, reducing congestion and improving road safety.


4. Retail


The retail sector will leverage 6G to deliver superior customer experiences and improve operational efficiency:


- AR/VR Shopping: High-speed 6G will enable seamless AR/VR experiences, transforming how customers shop. For instance, customers could virtually "try on" clothes or preview furniture in their homes.


- Supply Chain and Inventory Management: IoT devices powered by 6G can provide real-time inventory data, enabling retailers to optimize stock levels and reduce costs.


5. Energy


6G will also have significant implications for the energy sector:


- Smart Grids: Real-time data transmission and processing will enable the development of smart grids that can optimize energy distribution, reduce waste, and better integrate renewable sources.


- Predictive Maintenance: IoT devices can monitor the condition of energy infrastructure, predicting potential failures, and scheduling maintenance, leading to cost savings and improved service reliability.


6. Education


The implementation of 6G will foster inclusive and immersive learning experiences:


- Remote Learning: With the increased bandwidth and low latency offered by 6G, remote learning can become a more seamless and interactive experience, improving accessibility to education for students globally.


- AR/VR in Education: 6G could catalyze the use of augmented and virtual reality in education, offering immersive learning experiences. For instance, students could explore virtual labs or historical sites, boosting engagement and comprehension.


- AI in Education: The integration of AI with 6G could lead to personalized learning pathways, identifying student strengths and weaknesses and adapting instruction accordingly.


7. Agriculture


6G will revolutionize agricultural practices, enhancing productivity and sustainability:


- Precision Agriculture: High-speed, reliable connectivity offered by 6G will enable real-time monitoring of fields with IoT devices, optimizing the use of resources like water, fertilizer, and pesticides, thereby increasing yield and reducing environmental impact.


- Smart Livestock Farming: IoT devices can monitor livestock health and well-being, alerting farmers to any issues in real-time, reducing disease spread, and improving overall farm productivity.


8. Entertainment and Media


The entertainment and media sector will be significantly boosted by 6G:


- Immersive Experiences: With the capacity to support high-resolution, low-latency streaming, 6G will redefine entertainment experiences with more immersive AR/VR content.


- Interactive Media: High-speed, low-latency networks will enable real-time interactivity in media consumption, leading to more engaging content, such as interactive live events and games.


- Content Creation: High-quality real-time streaming and cloud-based services will empower content creators, opening new avenues for creativity and collaboration.


9. Real Estate


6G can transform the real estate industry, creating smarter and more efficient buildings:


- Smart Buildings: 6G connectivity can enable the widespread implementation of smart buildings, where systems like lighting, heating, security, and even elevators are automated and optimized for efficiency.


- Virtual Property Tours: AR/VR powered by 6G can offer potential buyers or renters immersive, realistic virtual property tours, saving time and resources for both clients and realtors.


10. Public Services


Public services can also benefit from 6G's advanced capabilities:


- Public Safety: Real-time video surveillance, AI-enabled threat detection, and instant communication between safety personnel can improve public safety and emergency response.


- Smart Cities: High-speed, ubiquitous connectivity will facilitate the development of smart cities, where data from various sensors is used to optimize traffic, waste management, energy use, and more.


11. Finance


6G can significantly enhance the capabilities of the financial sector:


- Real-Time Financial Transactions: The speed and reliability of 6G networks will enable instantaneous financial transactions, including cross-border payments, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction.


- High-Frequency Trading: Low-latency, high-speed networks are crucial in high-frequency trading, where milliseconds can equate to millions in gains or losses. 6G can facilitate faster information processing and transaction execution.


- Improved Financial Services: High-speed, reliable connections can boost mobile banking and financial services, enabling seamless real-time interactions, improving customer experiences, and opening up financial services to previously underserved populations.


12. Hospitality & Tourism


The Hospitality & Tourism sector stands to reap significant benefits from 6G:


- Enhanced Customer Service: With high-speed, reliable connections, hotels can offer guests seamless online booking and check-in processes, real-time updates on services, and instant customer support.


- AR/VR Tourism: High-speed 6G will enable seamless AR/VR experiences, allowing tourists to "visit" locations virtually before deciding to travel there, or enhance their experiences once they are there with AR guides and information.


- Smart Hotels: 6G connectivity can enable the implementation of smart hotels, where services like lighting, heating, room service, and entertainment are automated and personalized based on customer preferences.


13. Environment & Sustainability


6G can also have significant implications for environmental monitoring and sustainability:


- Real-Time Environmental Monitoring: IoT devices, powered by the robust 6G networks, can provide real-time data on various environmental factors such as air quality, water quality, soil conditions, wildlife movements, etc. This can enable proactive environmental management and policy-making.


- Sustainable Practices: The high-speed, ubiquitous connectivity offered by 6G can support sustainable practices in various sectors. For example, precision agriculture can optimize resource use, smart grids can optimize energy use, and intelligent transportation systems can reduce traffic and emissions.


14. Space Exploration


Even space exploration could benefit from the advancements in 6G:


- Deep Space Communication: The potential integration of terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks in 6G could enhance communication with spacecraft and extraterrestrial missions, improving data transmission rates and reliability.


- Satellite IoT: With the integration of satellite and terrestrial networks, IoT applications can be extended to global scale, including ocean monitoring, global logistics, and even space-based IoT applications.


15. Defense and Security


The high-speed, low-latency, and reliable connectivity of 6G could offer substantial advantages in defense and security:


- Enhanced Communication: Military units could take advantage of the robust, high-speed connections provided by 6G for secure and instantaneous communication during operations. This could also facilitate improved coordination among different units and locations.


- Advanced Surveillance: High-definition real-time video streaming, facilitated by 6G, could significantly enhance surveillance capabilities. The integration of AI could also enable predictive surveillance and immediate threat recognition.


- Autonomous Military Vehicles: Just as in civilian life, autonomous vehicles, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and autonomous ground vehicles, could be used for a variety of applications such as logistics, reconnaissance, and even combat.


16. Science and Research


The next generation of wireless technology will offer substantial benefits for scientific research:


- Remote Research: In fields such as environmental science, astrophysics, and oceanography, researchers can use IoT devices connected via 6G to collect real-time data from remote locations, facilitating more comprehensive and timely research.


- Collaborative Research: The high-speed, reliable connections offered by 6G could facilitate more efficient collaboration between researchers located around the world, enabling real-time data sharing, discussions, and even remote experiments.


- Large-scale Simulations: The higher bandwidth and processing capabilities of 6G networks could support more complex and larger-scale simulations, enabling breakthroughs in fields such as climate science, physics, and AI.


17. Government Services


Government services stand to be transformed by 6G:


- Digital Public Services: Governments could provide public services digitally with unprecedented efficiency, speed, and accessibility. This includes everything from document submission and application processes to public announcements and emergency services.


- Smart Cities: By leveraging 6G's capabilities, governments can transform urban areas into smart cities, where everything from traffic management to energy consumption is optimized using real-time data, leading to more sustainable and livable cities.


- Public Safety and Emergency Services: Advanced connectivity could revolutionize public safety operations and emergency services. Real-time data analysis can improve disaster response, while communication between different emergency services can be made more efficient.


18. Mining and Resources


Even traditionally 'analog' sectors like mining could be significantly impacted by 6G:


- Remote and Autonomous Operations: High-speed, reliable connectivity is crucial for remote and autonomous operations in mining. Autonomous vehicles and machinery can improve efficiency and safety in mines, while remote operations can allow the workforce to operate in safer conditions.


- Real-Time Monitoring: IoT sensors can continuously monitor critical parameters such as temperature, humidity, pressure, and gas levels in mines, enabling early warning systems for the safety of workers and better operational decision-making.


19. eSports and Gaming


6G's superior latency and bandwidth capabilities will have significant implications for the eSports and gaming industry:


- Immersive Gaming: Enhanced network performance can lead to more immersive, realistic gaming experiences. This includes not only improved graphics but also the integration of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in gaming.


- Cloud Gaming: By leveraging the high-speed, low-latency connections of 6G, cloud gaming services can become more accessible and provide a seamless gaming experience, where games are streamed in real-time without the need for high-end hardware on the user's end.


- Interactive eSports: Real-time interactivity in eSports competitions will be enhanced, making them even more engaging for participants and spectators alike. This includes live interactions between players, commentators, and audiences.


20. Insurance


The insurance industry will also witness transformative changes due to 6G:


- Risk Assessment: IoT devices, connected via reliable 6G networks, can provide real-time data on a wide range of parameters. This can help insurance companies assess risk more accurately and tailor policies accordingly.


- Claims Processing: Enhanced connectivity can also improve claims processing. For instance, with connected cars, insurance companies can get real-time information in case of an accident, which can speed up the claims process.


- Insurance for Autonomous Vehicles and Smart Devices: As autonomous vehicles and smart homes become commonplace, new insurance models will need to be developed. 6G will play a critical role in the continuous monitoring and data transmission required for these insurance models.


21. Home Automation


The home automation industry will reach new heights with the advent of 6G:


- Smart Homes: With 6G, smart homes can become more responsive and intuitive. From security systems and lighting to heating and entertainment, all aspects of home management can be automated for efficiency and convenience.


- Remote Home Management: Homeowners can manage their homes remotely in real-time, thanks to the reliable, high-speed connectivity provided by 6G. Whether it's checking security footage or adjusting the thermostat, these tasks can be performed seamlessly from anywhere.



Best Practices 


1. Investing in R&D


Research and development (R&D) forms the backbone of 6G advancement. Leaders in the space like Nokia, Samsung, Huawei, and Qualcomm are heavily investing in R&D to drive the development of 6G technologies. They are developing advanced antennas, exploring new frequency bands, working on AI and machine learning techniques for network management, and researching ways to reduce latency and energy consumption. 


For instance, Nokia launched 'Nokia Bell Labs' dedicated to leading research on the defining technologies of 6G. Similarly, Samsung has its 'Advanced Communications Research Center' for the same purpose.


2. Building Partnerships


Given the multi-faceted nature of 6G, collaboration and partnerships are crucial. Industry leaders are forging alliances with other tech companies, academic institutions, and even government bodies to drive the development and standardization of 6G technologies.


For instance, Ericsson and Qualcomm have partnered to drive the development of key 6G technologies. Additionally, various consortiums, such as the Next G Alliance in North America, the 6Genesis project in Europe, and the IMT-2030 Promotion Group in China, have been formed to foster collaboration on 6G development.


3. Early Standardization Efforts


Standardization is a critical part of the development of any new generation of wireless technology. Leading players are actively involved in early standardization efforts for 6G. They are participating in global forums and organizations such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) to contribute to the development of global 6G standards.


4. Investing in Infrastructure


The rollout of 6G will require massive infrastructure development. Leading network providers are already investing in and testing advanced infrastructure components like base stations and transmission networks that can support 6G speeds and capabilities. 


5. Prioritizing Security and Privacy


Given the pervasive nature of 6G connectivity, security and privacy are of paramount importance. Top players are investing in the development of advanced encryption techniques, secure network architectures, and privacy-preserving mechanisms to ensure the security and privacy of 6G networks and services.


6. Fostering Talent and Skills


The shift to 6G will require a workforce with new skills and capabilities. Leading players are investing in talent development and training to ensure they have the expertise needed to drive 6G development and deployment.



Notable Breakthroughs towards 6G


1. Nokia Bell Labs: Nokia, a global leader in 5G, has been proactive in preparing for the 6G era. Through its research arm, Nokia Bell Labs, the company made a significant leap by achieving a data transmission rate that's reportedly 100 times faster than the potential of 5G. The lab employed a unique combination of millimeter-wave and terahertz technologies to achieve this feat, a major success in the journey towards 6G.


2. Samsung's 6G White Paper: In July 2020, Samsung released a white paper entitled "The Next Hyper-Connected Experience for All," outlining its vision for 6G. The document offers a comprehensive projection of 6G, including candidate technologies, new services, and an expected timeline. Samsung's proactive exploration of 6G principles, technologies, and potential use-cases is an important step towards the realization of 6G.


3. University of Oulu's 6Genesis Project: Funded by the Academy of Finland, the 6Genesis project led by the University of Oulu aims to conceptualize the foundations of 6G. With a focus on areas such as wireless connectivity, distributed intelligent computing, and novel applications of AI, the project is one of the pioneering academic research initiatives shaping the evolution towards 6G.


4. China's 6G Satellite Launch: In November 2020, China launched the world's first experimental 6G satellite to test the technology in space. The satellite will reportedly be used to verify the performance of 6G frequency bands in space, as 6G is expected to utilize higher frequency bands than those used by 5G.


5. NTT DoCoMo's Initiative: Japanese telecom giant NTT DoCoMo announced its initiative to launch a pre-commercial 6G network by 2030. To this end, it has opened a research center and partnered with universities and companies, including NEC and Fujitsu, to develop key 6G technologies.


6. The Next G Alliance: In October 2020, leading technology organizations in North America, including Apple, AT&T, and Qualcomm, formed the Next G Alliance. This industry-led initiative is focused on advancing North American leadership in 6G and beyond. It's a significant move in setting the pace for 6G research and standardization.



Risks and Pain Points


1. Infrastructure and Investment


The deployment of 6G networks will require the development of a whole new set of infrastructures that can support higher frequencies, enhanced speed, and larger data volumes. This will require significant capital investment, which could be a challenge, especially for developing countries and smaller telecom operators.


2. Energy Consumption


With the massive increase in network speed and capacity, energy consumption is also set to rise significantly. This raises concerns about the environmental impact of 6G and the need for sustainable, energy-efficient technologies.


3. Technology Standardization


Standardizing 6G technology globally will be a complex process. With multiple stakeholders involved, reaching a consensus on the standards and protocols of 6G technology will be a considerable challenge.


4. Security and Privacy


Given the pervasive nature of 6G connectivity, there will be increased concerns about data privacy and security. The prospect of more devices connected to the internet, increased data sharing, and advanced AI technologies raises questions about user privacy, data protection, and the potential for cyber threats.


5. Health Concerns


There is a long-standing debate about the health implications of exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy from cellular networks. With 6G expected to use higher frequencies, these concerns will likely escalate.


6. Skill Gap


With the shift to 6G, a new set of skills will be required in the workforce. Bridging this skill gap will be a significant challenge, necessitating comprehensive education and training initiatives.


7. Regulatory Challenges


As 6G introduces new use-cases and technologies, it will also necessitate the evolution of the regulatory landscape. Addressing these regulatory challenges, from spectrum allocation to data privacy laws, will be critical.



Mitigating Solutions


1. Infrastructure and Investment


To overcome the financial and technical challenges of infrastructure development, governments and industry players can work together to share the burden. Public-private partnerships can be a powerful tool in this respect. Furthermore, standardized and modular equipment could be used to reduce costs.


2. Energy Consumption


Innovative technologies will be key to achieving energy efficiency in 6G networks. This includes the development of advanced, energy-efficient chips and antennas, as well as AI-driven network management systems that optimize energy use. Renewable energy sources should also be utilized where possible.


3. Technology Standardization


Global cooperation is necessary to overcome the challenge of 6G standardization. This involves the active participation of various stakeholders, including tech companies, research institutions, and government bodies, in international standardization organizations and forums.


4. Security and Privacy


Ensuring security and privacy in 6G networks will require the integration of advanced security measures from the ground up. This includes encryption, secure network architectures, and privacy-preserving technologies. AI and machine learning can also be employed to detect and respond to security threats in real time.


5. Health Concerns


To address health concerns related to 6G radiation, further research is needed to understand the potential impacts. It's important to ensure network infrastructures are designed and deployed in accordance with international health and safety standards.


6. Skill Gap


Addressing the skills gap will require targeted education and training initiatives. Collaboration between tech companies, educational institutions, and government bodies can help ensure the workforce is equipped with the skills needed for the 6G era.


7. Regulatory Challenges


Regulatory bodies must stay abreast of technological developments to ensure that laws and regulations reflect the realities of 6G technology. Regular dialogue between tech companies, researchers, and policymakers can facilitate this process.



Future Outlook


1. Ubiquitous Connectivity: The evolution towards 6G signals the dawn of truly ubiquitous and robust connectivity. It is expected to be the backbone of a fully networked society, connecting humans, machines, objects, and devices at an unprecedented scale. This pervasive connectivity will enable seamless communication, making geographical distances irrelevant.


2. Advanced Applications: The superior performance characteristics of 6G will give rise to advanced applications that will redefine the way we live, work, and interact. This includes immersive augmented reality and virtual reality experiences, real-time automation, AI-powered services, and personalized healthcare. The convergence of AI, IoT, and big data with 6G will unlock new levels of functionality and user experience.


3. Societal Impact: The transformative power of 6G technology extends beyond technology and business. It has the potential to address key societal challenges, from improving healthcare outcomes and education to reducing carbon footprints and enabling smart cities. The extensive application of 6G will play a significant role in shaping a sustainable, efficient, and inclusive future.


4. Economic Growth: 6G will be a powerful engine for economic growth and innovation. It will spur the creation of new industries, services, and job opportunities, similar to how 4G led to the birth of the app economy and 5G is enabling the Industry 4.0 revolution. 


5. Challenges Ahead: While the future of 6G is promising, significant challenges need to be addressed, including technological obstacles, investment requirements, security concerns, and regulatory issues. The journey towards 6G will require continuous innovation, collaboration, and strategic planning.


6. Timeline: Given the complexity of developing and deploying 6G, it is expected to be a decade-long journey. While research and standardization efforts are underway, the commercial deployment of 6G is not expected until the 2030s.



Recommendations to Companies


1. Invest in R&D:


Companies should consider investing in research and development efforts related to 6G technologies. This will help them understand the capabilities of 6G and its potential impact on their business. Early involvement in 6G development can also provide companies with a competitive edge.


2. Collaborate and Partner:


6G is expected to require a high degree of collaboration between different industry players. Companies should seek partnerships with network providers, technology vendors, research institutions, and even competitors to contribute to and stay abreast of the latest developments in 6G.


3. Upskill Workforce:


With the advent of 6G, new skills will be required across various job functions. Companies should start preparing their workforce for the 6G era by investing in training and education programs.


4. Adapt Business Models:


The arrival of 6G is likely to create new business opportunities and disrupt existing business models. Companies should begin to explore how their business models might need to adapt to take advantage of the opportunities presented by 6G.


5. Prioritize Security:


Given the extensive connectivity and advanced capabilities of 6G, cybersecurity threats are expected to increase. Companies should prioritize investing in advanced security measures to protect their data and network infrastructure.


6. Engage in Policy and Regulation Discussions:


As 6G technology develops, new regulations and policies will emerge. Companies should actively engage in these discussions to ensure their interests are represented and they are prepared for regulatory changes.


7. Consider Sustainability:


The potential increase in energy consumption with 6G networks presents sustainability challenges. Companies should seek to adopt and develop energy-efficient technologies and practices as part of their 6G strategies.



The shift from 5G to 6G is not merely about achieving faster data speeds or greater network efficiencies. It is about a revolutionary leap that will redefine connectivity and propel humanity into an era of digital ubiquity, where the line between the physical and the virtual will continue to blur. 6G, with its promise of advanced capabilities like sub-millisecond latency, AI integration, and edge computing, will give rise to innovative applications across diverse sectors and provide a massive boost to economic growth and societal development.


However, as we look towards this promising horizon, it's crucial to keep in mind the challenges and obstacles on the road ahead. Infrastructure and investment, energy consumption, technological standardization, privacy and security, health concerns, and regulatory challenges are significant hurdles that need to be addressed. Tackling these issues will require a combination of technological innovation, policy evolution, strategic investment, and multi-stakeholder collaboration.


As businesses prepare for this transformative era, proactive engagement in 6G development, investment in R&D, upskilling the workforce, adapting business models, prioritizing security, and engaging in regulatory discussions will be key strategies to ensure success.


The advent of 6G promises to be a significant milestone in our digital journey, offering exciting opportunities and challenges alike. While the journey towards 6G is expected to be a decade-long endeavour, the time to plan, prepare, and act is now. As we navigate this journey, we must strive to ensure that the benefits of this revolutionary technology are realized by all, making our digital future more inclusive, sustainable, and beneficial for humanity.

Dick van Schooneveld

COO | Telco, Utilities, High tech

Dick is a high-energy, enthusiastic, decisive, proactive, result oriented, structured senior professional with 30 years’ experience in the consulting and technology/telco sector. Entre/intrapreneurial professional having fulfilled many international leadership positions in the high tech, telecoms and utilities industry with focus on innovation, consulting, outsourcing, M&A and smart everything. Through a pragmatic and well defined approach, Dick believes in tomorrow’s IoT and connecting the dots on a global scale with a vision of transforming industries effectively. 


Telecom Towers to Transformed Cell Skyscrapers: Hylman's Comprehensive Guide to Leading the Cellphone Tower Industry into a New Era of Connectivity

In this comprehensive analysis, we delve into the evolving landscape of the cellphone tower industry as of early 2024, highlighting key trends, opportunities, and challenges. The piece underscores the pivotal role of technological advancements, particularly the 5G rollout and anticipated 6G developments, and emphasizes the industry's response to increasing demands for high-speed connectivity and sustainable practices. Addressing regulatory complexities, security concerns, and market dynamics, the piece offers strategic insights into future growth trajectories and operational efficiencies. Hylman, as a global management consulting firm, emerges as the ideal partner for companies in this sector, offering expert guidance, innovative strategies, and data-driven solutions to navigate this dynamic market, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and effectively mitigate challenges, positioning clients for success in a rapidly evolving telecommunications landscape.

by Dick van Schooneveld | 29 Jan 2024

Beyond the Horizon, A Sixth Generation: Deciphering the 6G Paradigm Shift and Crafting a Resilient Strategy for Digital Dominance

In this insightful piece, Hylman explores the transformative potential of 6G technology, identifying emerging trends, growth opportunities across various sectors, potential risks, and effective mitigation strategies. We delve into the critical success stories and best practices while providing future-focused recommendations for businesses. As a global management consulting firm, Hylman stands uniquely positioned to guide companies through this complex transition, leveraging our deep industry expertise, strategic insights, and a collaborative approach to unlock the immense value of the impending 6G era.

by Dick van Schooneveld | 27 Jul 2023

Unleashing the Power of Africa's Connectivity: Navigating the Telecommunications Landscape For Strategic Growth and Market Leadership

In this thought-provoking piece, Hylman delves into the latest trends, growth, success stories, risks, and recommendations within the telecommunications sector across Africa. As a global management consulting firm with deep expertise in the sector and roots within the African market, Hylman stands as the trusted partner to assist companies in navigating the ever-evolving African telecommunications landscape. With our strategic insights and tailored solutions, we empower businesses to seize opportunities, overcome challenges, and drive sustainable growth in the dynamic African telecommunications industry.

by Dick van Schooneveld | 23 May 2023