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Global Race to 6G: Which Countries are Leading the Charge?

Race to 6G

ICT | Mar, 2024

As the world gradually adapts to the revolution of 5G technology, with its blazing speeds and connectivity that has already begun to transform various industries, the tech world's visionary eyes are set on the next frontier - 6G. Though still largely conceptual and years away from commercial deployment, 6G promises to redefine the limits of wireless technology, offering even faster speeds, lower latency, and more reliability. Let's explore which countries are taking the lead in the global race to develop 6G.

What is 6G, and How Does It Compare to 5G?

Before delving into the trends, it’s crucial to grasp what 6G is and how it differs from its predecessor, 5G. Whereas 5G networks offer gigabit speeds, low latency, and massive data capacity, 6G aims to push those boundaries even further. Experts predict that 6G could deliver terabit-level throughput and microsecond latency, offering a 100-fold improvement over 5G capabilities.

According to TechSci Research “6G Market – Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Opportunity, and Forecast, 2018–2035, Segmented By Component (Hardware, Software, Services), By Communication Infrastructure (Wireless, Fixed), By Application (Multisensory XR Applications, Connected Robotics and Autonomous Systems (CRAS), Wireless Brain-Computer Interactions (BCI), Digital Twins, Smart Cities, Internet of Everything (IoE), Blockchain and DLT, and Others), By End User (Government, Consumer, Industrial, and Enterprise), By Region,” the Global 6G Market is expected to thrive during the forecast period 2024-2035, due to the growing demand for 6G communication and the emphasis on low latency networks for applications across industries.

The market is witnessing expansion driven by the increasing demand for 6G communication across various industries and the focus on low-latency networks for applications. While the implementation of 6G is still pending, the industry appears to be highly competitive. Despite the limited number of 6G technology and service providers currently available, the sector exhibits fragmentation due to substantial investments and research into enabling efficient transmission of 6G data over longer distances. Some of the key technological foundations for the upcoming 6G platforms include radio and baseband, network disaggregation, computable topology, machine learning, and multimedia and display.

Unveiling the Potential of 6G

6G, the next generation of wireless technology, is set to surpass the capabilities of 5G. With the ability to operate at higher frequencies, 6G networks will offer significantly greater capacity and lower latency. One of the main objectives of 6G is to enable communication with a latency as low as one microsecond. This translates to a speed that is 1,000 times faster, or 1/1000th the latency, compared to the current one millisecond throughput. This monumental leap in latency reduction holds profound implications for a myriad of applications, from immersive virtual reality experiences and real-time gaming to ultra-responsive remote control systems and autonomous vehicles. Moreover, the increased capacity of 6G networks promises to support a burgeoning ecosystem of connected devices, enabling the seamless integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart infrastructure, and advanced industrial automation systems.

Experts predict that 6G will provide peak data rates of 1 terabyte per second – a remarkable advancement over 5G. This quantum leap forward in technology would not only accelerate data-driven technologies like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) but also make possible new applications such as high-fidelity mobile holograms, truly immersive extended reality, and the seamless integration of the digital and physical worlds.

The Forerunners in the 6G Marathon

Currently, no country can assert the existence of a fully operational 6G network. Nonetheless, numerous nations are actively allocating resources towards research and development, aiming to pioneer this revolutionary technology. China stands at the forefront of this competition.


China has made significant strides in the telecommunications industry and is planning to become a global leader in 6G technology. China has already made headlines by launching an experimental satellite to test terahertz signal transmission - a step toward 6G. With its significant state support and investment, China aims to become a global leader in the next iteration of mobile internet. In addition to its fast-paced research and development efforts, China boasts a domestic market of tech giants like Huawei and ZTE, which play pivotal roles in infrastructure and device manufacturing for advanced wireless technologies.

While China may be at the forefront, other countries are closely following suit. South Korea, renowned for its early embrace of 5G, is also investing in the research of 6G technology. The South Korean government has allocated substantial funds to foster the advancement of 6G technologies, aiming to bring it into commercial use by 2028.

China adopts an open approach towards telecommunication technology, actively fostering international cooperation in the field of 6G. This stands in stark contrast to the US tech blockade, which has caused disruptions in global supply chains. Looking ahead, 6G will connect not just individuals, but also intelligent entities like robots and the meta-universe. Moreover, it will further enhance the application scenarios of 5G.

South Korea

South Korea, recognized for its early and rapid adoption of 5G, is a strong contender in the 6G race. South Korean tech conglomerates such as Samsung and LG have already started their groundwork on 6G. The country's commitment is further evidenced by the government’s announced plans to invest around USD200 million over the next decade into 6G research and development.

South Korea's proposed sixth generation (6G) communication frequency bands have been recognized as global standard candidates by the industry's frequency range-allocating body, South Korea’s science ministry. At the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) under the United Nations, the country's three frequency ranges surpassed the 23 spectrums offered by other nations.

Although South Korea started its research later than China or the US, it remains optimistic about its launch plans, setting 2026 as the targeted year for 6G technology, which is three years ahead of China.

The United States

The United States has long been at the forefront of technological innovation, and it’s no different when it comes to 6G. Major US-based tech companies, along with influential universities, have already initiated research and development efforts. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened up the "terahertz" wave bands for experimental purposes, paving the way for 6G experimentation. Entities like AT&T, Verizon, and the Next G Alliance are all contributing to shaping the future of 6G, which would have the have the ability to take mobile internet and cloud computing to true global ubiquity, among other improvements.

In the United States, policymakers should enhance incentives for government agencies to allocate additional spectrum for wireless innovation. This can be achieved by imposing higher costs for idle spectrum and enhancing incentives for efficient spectrum utilization. The Department of Defense, the largest spectrum user within the government, is advised to collaborate closely with the FCC and NTIA to evaluate its spectrum usage and formulate a comprehensive strategy for spectrum release.

The European Union

Europe is not sitting on the sidelines either. The EU has several large-scale initiatives, such as the Horizon Europe program, aimed at driving innovation and research. Nokia, headquartered in Finland, is playing a leading role in 6G developments through its participation in the Hexa-X project, which is essentially the European flagship for 6G research. Through programs like Horizon Europe and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU is funding collaborative research projects, fostering partnerships between academia, industry, and government, and supporting the development of key technologies and standards for 6G.

In Germany, the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance launched a research project on 6G in 2020, securing government funding. In Europe, specifically outside the EU, the University of Surrey (UK) established a 6G Innovation Center in 2020. Additionally, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia introduced a device with the potential to develop components for the 6G system.


Japan is another major player, known for its technological prowess and innovative spirit. Japan embarked on its 6G research in 2020, experiencing a slight delay in progress. Nonetheless, the nation has set ambitious goals to unveil the next-generation mobile data technology by 2030. Like South Korea, the government has allocated a significant USD9.6 billion development fund, encompassing various emerging technologies, including 6G. The country has the Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium involving heavyweight industry players like NTT DoCoMo and Toshiba, and academic institutions working collaboratively on 6G advancements. The Japanese government has also indicated significant investments into 6G technology research.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the ruling party in Japan, is planning to make amendments to the laws concerning Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in order to facilitate the advancement of next generation 6G technology. The objective is to grant NTT the necessary flexibility and autonomy to expedite its research and development efforts in this field, eliminating regulatory barriers that impede its global competitiveness.

Collaborations and Collective Efforts

Recognizing the vast implications and technical challenges that 6G brings to the table, nations and corporations understand the value of collaboration. There are several international bodies and consortiums where countries and companies work together to set global standards and share insights. These collective research efforts are critical in shaping the global agenda for technology development and helping ensure interoperability across borders.

Challenges on the Way to 6G

There’s no shortage of technological and logistical hurdles in the race to 6G. From developing new components capable of handling terahertz frequencies to addressing concerns over privacy, security, and potential health implications, the journey to 6G is fraught with challenges. Moreover, there is the issue of substantial financial investment and the need for unified international standards.

Ø  Infrastructure Realities: Building the Future Network

Accommodating 6G is not simply a matter of upgrading existing cellular towers. To compensate for the signal limitations inherent at higher frequencies, a dense mesh of small cells will need to be deployed, particularly in urban areas. This compound the cost and logistical challenges of infrastructure deployment, raising questions about urban planning, environmental impact, and equitable access.

Moreover, the future 6G network is envisioned to integrate seamlessly with satellite communication, creating a truly omnipresent network. The alignment of terrestrial and extraterrestrial networks presents its own set of technical, regulatory, and operational challenges, ranging from managing orbital traffic to ensuring global coverage is uniformly accessible.

According to TechSci Research Telecom Equipment Market - Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Competition, Opportunity and Forecast, 2017-2027, Segmented By Infrastructure (Wireless, Wired Infrastructure), By Product Type (Public Switching Equipment, Transmission Equipment, Customer Premises Equipment), By Offering (Products, Software, Services), By End User (IT & Telecommunication, Consumer Electronics, BFSI, Retail, Media, Defense, and Others), By Region” the Global telecom equipment market is expected to grow at a significant rate during the forecast period.

The increasing adoption of smart devices, along with broader internet access, is anticipated to propel the global telecom equipment market. The growing demand for IoT devices to facilitate improved connectivity and real-time information in commercial and residential sectors is driving the market. Furthermore, advancements in artificial intelligence and cloud computing technologies are expected to further fuel the market growth in the foreseeable future.

Ø  Energy Consumption and Sustainability

The dream of 6G is green as well as lightning fast. The next generation of telecommunications must reckon with the dual pressures of exponentially increasing data demands and the urgent need for sustainability. The energy consumption of a densified network of small cells, coupled with advanced computational requirements, puts the spotlight on the need for energy-efficient technologies and green energy sources. Developers must innovate not only in telecommunications but also in energy management, so that the networks of tomorrow don't come at the expense of our planet's health.

Ø  Security: Safeguarding an Ultra-Connected World

With phenomenal speed and connectivity comes the heightened need for robust security measures. The prospective applications for 6G—from autonomous vehicles to AI-driven decision-making systems—will form the backbone of a hyper-connected society. This deep integration of network technology into the fabric of our daily lives’ places weighty responsibilities on safeguarding personal privacy and data integrity.

Security protocols must evolve in tandem with technology, anticipating the complex threat landscapes that a globally interconnected network will face. As we interlace our world more closely with technology, the consequences of breaches will become magnified, underlining the importance of pre-emptively secure design.

Ø  Societal and Ethical Considerations: The Human Impact

The aspirations for 6G do not exist in a vacuum; they intersect with social, ethical, and political dimensions. For instance, the potential for pervasive surveillance in a world blanketed by 6G connectivity raises serious questions about privacy and civil liberties. Ensuring that 6G development is guided by strong ethical principles is essential to garner public trust and acceptance.

In addition, with the new network generation aiming at digital inclusion, we face the challenge of preventing a deepening digital divide. Equitable access to 6G technology, irrespective of geographic location or social status, must be a priority to avoid creating further societal rifts based on connectivity.

Breaking Down the Trends in the 6G Technology Sector

·         Terahertz (THz) Frequencies

One of the most significant trends in the development of 6G is the exploration of terahertz (THz) frequencies, which range from 100 GHz to 10 THz. Unlike lower-frequency signals, which can travel relatively long distances without significant degradation, THz signals are highly susceptible to attenuation, limiting their effective range. To overcome this obstacle, researchers are actively exploring innovative approaches, including the development of novel materials and advanced beam-forming technologies. These efforts aim to mitigate signal loss and enhance the propagation of THz waves, thereby extending the reach of 6G networks and enabling seamless connectivity over larger distances. As research in this field continues to evolve, the prospect of harnessing the full capabilities of terahertz technology in the realm of 6G becomes increasingly within reach, promising a new era of innovation and advancement in wireless telecommunications.

·         AI-Integrated Networks

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to play an even more integral role in network optimizations with 6G. The integration of AI into 6G infrastructure holds the promise of revolutionizing network optimization, ushering in an era of unprecedented efficiency, adaptability, and responsiveness. By harnessing the vast amounts of data generated by network sensors, user devices, and other sources, AI-driven 6G networks can analyze patterns, predict trends, and make informed decisions to optimize resource allocation, mitigate congestion, and enhance overall performance. Additionally, AI-driven network optimization enables adaptive security measures, allowing 6G networks to proactively identify and mitigate potential threats in real-time, safeguarding data privacy and network integrity.

·         The Internet of Everything (IoE)

While the Internet of Things (IoT) has introduced a level of interconnectivity between devices, the IoE concept extends beyond objects to include people, processes, and data. In essence, IoE represents a holistic ecosystem where every element, from smart devices and sensors to human beings and digital processes, is interconnected and able to share information in real-time. This interconnectedness holds the potential to drive unprecedented levels of efficiency, productivity, and innovation across various domains, including healthcare, transportation, agriculture, and manufacturing. With its ultra-fast speeds, ultra-low latency, and massive capacity, 6G aims to create a seamless and ubiquitous network where every device and person can be connected, facilitating instantaneous communication and enabling transformative applications and services. From autonomous vehicles and smart cities to personalized healthcare and immersive virtual experiences, the possibilities enabled by 6G in the context of IoE are virtually limitless.

·         Edge Computing Integration

The shift towards edge computing, where data processing is performed closer to the source, is expected to be a staple in 6G networks. This trend addresses the latency and bandwidth challenges by reducing the distance data needs to travel, which is crucial for real-time applications like autonomous vehicles and augmented reality. As concerns about climate change escalate, sustainability becomes a priority in technology advancements. The 6G sector emphasizes energy-efficient networks that minimize carbon footprints. Innovations like energy-harvesting technologies and low-energy protocols underscore the shift toward green telecommunications.

·         Advanced Network Security

As network complexity and capabilities grow, so does the potential for security vulnerabilities, necessitating robust measures to safeguard data integrity and privacy. At the forefront of these security advancements are technologies such as quantum cryptography and blockchain, which hold the potential to revolutionize the way we secure wireless communications. Quantum cryptography, for instance, harnesses the principles of quantum mechanics to encrypt data in a manner that is theoretically impossible to intercept or decipher. By leveraging the unique properties of quantum particles, such as superposition and entanglement, quantum cryptography offers a level of security that far surpasses traditional encryption methods, providing an impenetrable shield against cyber threats. In addition to quantum cryptography and blockchain, the 6G era is likely to see the widespread adoption of other advanced security measures, such as AI-driven threat detection and response systems, secure multi-party computation, and zero-trust architectures.

According to TechSci Research Next Generation Wireless Network Market – Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Opportunity, and Forecast, Segmented By Technology (Wireless LAN, 3G, 4G LTE, 5G), By Type (Fixed, Mobile, Portable, IR), By Component (Software, Hardware), By End User (Telecommunication, Consumer Electronics, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Banking, Automotive, Retail, Aerospace & Defense, Others), By Region, and By Competition, 2018-2028,” the Global Next Generation Wireless Network Market is growing at a paid pace due to the relentless demand for higher data speeds, lower latency, and increased connectivity. The market is currently undergoing a transformative evolution driven by the persistent demand for higher data speeds, lower latency, and increased connectivity. Key technological advancements, such as 5G networks, have emerged as the cornerstone of this market, offering unparalleled capabilities in terms of data transmission and device connectivity. These networks are propelling the growth of smart cities, industry 4.0, IoT adoption, and the proliferation of data-intensive applications like augmented reality and autonomous vehicles.

Holographic and Tactile Communication

Imagine interacting with a 3D holographic image of a colleague or feeling the texture of a fabric through your screen. These sci-fi-sounding features represent real objectives within 6G development. They could reform educational, healthcare, and retail sectors by offering sensory and immersive experiences. Utilizing holograms as a medium of communication, wearable devices equipped with emotion-sensing capabilities will serve as foundational elements in future networks, enabling the monitoring of mental health.

The Long Road Ahead

While the possibilities of 6G tantalize the imagination, the road to its actualization is filled with both innovation and introspection. The confluence of technology and humanity is never a simple path, and each challenge presents an opportunity to shape a future that reflects our highest aspirations for inclusivity, advancement, and respect for the individual and our world.

The strides we take towards 6G now are more than just steps toward a faster network; they are movements towards a new paradigm of global connectivity. As we confront these obstacles, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to collaborate, innovate, and advocate for a 6G future that elevates technology and society alike.

Every great leap starts with solid ground beneath our feet. Let us walk mindfully and with purpose, acknowledging that the challenges before us are as significant as the opportunities beyond them.

The Socio-Economic Impact of 6G

It’s clear that 6G technology will have profound socio-economic impacts on industries and societies across the globe. Enhanced connectivity could break down barriers to education and healthcare through telepresence, boost manufacturing through advanced automation, transform urban planning with smart cities, and revolutionize the entertainment industry with augmented and virtual realities. The upcoming generation of technology, 6G, is projected to be 100 times faster than 5G. However, the advantages of 6G extend beyond just speed. It will be a fully integrated system enabling instant communication between devices, consumers, and the surrounding environment. The implementation of 6G in enterprise technologies will revolutionize information processing, communication, decision-making, and employee training for companies. This new technology will stimulate exciting and innovative use cases, drive significant social changes, and also introduce novel challenges.

What to Expect from Widespread 6G

First and foremost, 6G will revolutionize the metaverse. While the metaverse is currently a prominent buzzword in IT circles, even 5G falls short in providing the necessary bandwidth for real-time, rendered, personalized 3D worlds. However, 6G will have the capability to deliver the required speed and bandwidth, empowering tech giants to establish an immersive, persistent, and fully integrated virtual metaverse. Moreover, the technology is expected to result in an even wider range of smart devices on the market. This pervasive intelligence and the expanded internet of things (IoT) is likely to create seamless connectivity between everyday life and the internet.

The rollout of 6G can have implications on the way work is done. The advent of 6G technology will facilitate meetings in immersive 3D digital spaces, enabling avatars to establish "real" eye contact. This groundbreaking advancement will empower workers to convene in groups and effectively convey body language in real time. With the advent of 6G technology, organizations can offer immersive VR and AR training experiences that enhance the transfer of knowledge among teams and improve knowledge retention. Honeywell, an aerospace and engineering conglomerate, is already leveraging AR and VR to enhance its training initiatives. The company provides new hires with mixed reality headsets, allowing them to observe and learn from the work of experienced employees. Through the overlay of instructional information, this technology guides new hires as they mirror the tasks at hand.

Impact on Healthcare

The emergence of 6G technology holds the potential to revolutionize the healthcare sector. With its high-speed data transmission capabilities, we can anticipate the deployment of smart sensors that seamlessly navigate the bloodstream, diligently monitoring and assessing every aspect of individual well-being. These interconnected devices will continuously gather data, utilizing advanced analytics to offer proactive recommendations and forecast potential health issues. Furthermore, we can expect the development of smart devices capable of administering physical assistance and medications, supported by regularly updated digital replicas in the online realm. These groundbreaking advancements will enable the healthcare industry to shift from a reactive to a predictive and personalized approach, fundamentally transforming healthcare management. Undoubtedly, these developments will significantly impact healthcare professionals and reshape the future landscape of the healthcare industry.

Ø  Advantages of 6G Technology

Unprecedented Speeds

The most talked-about benefit of 6G is its expected data transmission speeds that could surpass 5G's capabilities exponentially. 6G is expected to deliver even faster data transmission speeds than its predecessor, 5G. With speeds potentially reaching terabits per second, 6G could enable lightning-fast downloads, seamless streaming of high-definition content, and real-time communication with minimal latency.

Reduced Latency

Low latency is critical for the operation of real-time applications. 6G promises to cut down the latency to mere microseconds, thereby enhancing experiences in sectors such as autonomous vehicles, robotic remote surgery, and even more seamless augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Improved Connectivity

With the likelihood of expanded bandwidth and advanced antenna technology, 6G may ensure a more stable and consistent connection. 6G aims to support a massive number of connected devices, surpassing the capabilities of existing wireless technologies. This could pave the way for the Internet of Everything (IoE), where not only devices but also people, processes, and data are interconnected, leading to unprecedented levels of efficiency and innovation. This can considerably benefit rural and densely populated urban areas where connectivity challenges persist today.

Empowering the Internet of Everything (IoE)

6G infrastructure is envisioned to serve as the backbone of this hyper-connected reality, providing the necessary connectivity, speed, and reliability to support the IoE vision. At the heart of the IoE concept is the idea of ubiquitous connectivity, where virtually everything is connected to the internet and able to exchange data. This includes not only traditional devices such as smartphones, computers, and IoT sensors but also human beings, digital processes, and even physical objects. This massive connectivity enables the IoE by ensuring that every device, sensor, and entity can be connected to the network, regardless of location or scale.

Hurdling Towards A.I. Integration

With 6G, artificial intelligence (AI) can operate more robustly due to improved network capabilities. This symbiosis between AI and 6G will likely lead to highly intuitive networks that can predict and adapt to bandwidth requirements and potential cybersecurity threats.

Ø  Disadvantages of 6G Technology

Infrastructure and Costs

One of the most significant hurdles of 6G is the infrastructure overhaul it requires. With a projected hefty price tag for development and deployment, there's concern on whether the investment will be worthwhile and who would bear these costs.

Privacy and Security Challenges

As networks become more complex and fast-paced with 6G, the risk of security breaches may increase. Protecting vast amounts of data transmitted at high speeds will require new security protocols and measures.

Technological Redundancy

Industries and consumers just beginning to adopt 5G technology may face quick obsolescence with the emergence of 6G. This fast-paced evolution can create a problematic technological turnover, putting financial pressure on businesses and consumers alike.

Health and Environmental Concerns

There are ongoing debates and studies centered around the health impacts of radiofrequency radiation, and these concerns would only amplify with 6G's emergence. Additionally, the environmental impact of manufacturing and disposing of rapidly outdated technologies must be considered. The increased energy consumption associated with 6G networks may contribute to environmental concerns.

The Digital Divide

Despite advancements, an inherent risk of widening the digital divide exists. Not all geographical regions are equally equipped to adopt these technologies. Such disparities can lead to an uneven playing field for countries and communities, affecting global equity.

The 6G technology is anticipated to meet groundbreaking requirements, necessitating the utilization of cutting-edge technologies for efficient management of new use cases, including those that have emerged during the COVID-19 health emergency. However, considering the progression of wireless mobile networks, there is a possibility that 6G could exacerbate the digital divide. This is due to the uneven distribution of the 5G standard during the initial phase of release across different countries, leading to a further gap between areas with state-of-the-art network coverage and those without.


While it is early to predict definitively which country will emerge as the leader in 6G technology, the race is undeniably on. The United States, China, South Korea, the European Union, and Japan are all investing heavily, but they are not alone. Canada, Russia, and India, among other nations, are also showing interest in being part of the next technological leap.

The collaborative efforts and competition are setting the stage for a transformative era in wireless communications. As the development of 6G continues to move forward, it is sure to bring exciting changes and innovations, reshaping the way we live, work, and interact. Therefore, even though the story of 6G is just starting to unfold, it is a narrative worth following keenly, as it will script the future of global connectivity.

While it's still early days, the importance of keeping abreast with 6G technology cannot be overstated. As these trends manifest, the potential for transformative applications across all sectors, from healthcare to transportation to entertainment, is boundless. For now, we tune into the present, but with an ear to the ground, listening for the footsteps of the future. Beyond mere connectivity, 6G may well carry the potential to connect not just devices, but societies and realities.

As we watch 6G technology evolve, one thing remains clear: the revolution in wireless communication will continue to be a cornerstone of human progress, turning what was once only imagined into integral parts of our daily lives.