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5G — the fifth generation of wireless communications technology — is our 2020 technology of the year. Here, in a series of articles, we explore the underlying technology, its potential applications, and its wider political context. We also consider what a future 6G could look like.
The fifth generation of mobile phone technology — 5G — promises higher data rates and more reliable communication than previous generations, leading to a variety of novel applications. But to make this a reality, developments in a range of technologies will be required.
Governments have underestimated the importance of technology governance in 5G development and will look to reassert control over key technologies. If future technologies are to be based on global standards, and not become geographically fragmented, the technology community need to urgently address this challenge.
The power consumption and carbon emissions of wireless communication networks are expected to substantially increase in the 5G era. The communications industry must therefore develop strategies to optimize the energy efficiency of 5G networks, without compromising spectrum efficiency.
This Perspective provides a vision for sixth generation (6G) communications in which human-centric mobile communications are considered the most important application, and high security, secrecy and privacy are its key features.