Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: There’s nothing wrong in being too fast on 6G

Filed on June 30, 2021

News on this isn’t new, but we have to admit that if 6G is, again, theoretically 100 times faster than 5G, that’s something certain to create buzz.

Keep up, or be left in the dust; that’s the message the digital age is sending to all of us right now. Adapt, upskill, upgrade, or be left behind — there isn’t much of a choice as we are very much our own drivers on the proverbial fast lane. Not so long ago, we were stunned by how much faster 5G was, compared to 4G LTE — as much as 100 times, according to tests — and we drooled at how much our digital life would become a breeze. Now, the UAE’s etisalat is pitching 6G, the next track in this race, by “conducting research and developing international standards”. News on this isn’t new, but we have to admit that if 6G is, again, theoretically 100 times faster than 5G, that’s something certain to create buzz.

But in terms of development, are we going too fast for our own good? New standards of mobile communications have been historically rolled out at the beginning of a decade, and we’re only in 2021, so why the rush? The answer to these questions will circle us back to how we should not just keep pace, but to stay ahead wherever and whenever possible. The deployment of 4G over a decade ago wasn’t as hyped as when 5G was, with the latter benefitting from more real-world scenarios and test cases. And just as 5G showed, even the fastest of standards will still face speed bumps along the way. Sub-par infrastructure, lack of access to compatible devices — whether because they are in limited supply or are not affordable — and even industries that, matter of factly, do fine with previous generations, are all challenges for a new standard. An International Telecommunication Union report for 2020 showed that a good chunk of mobile users around the world still rely on 3G — even 2G — particularly among least-developed nations. The digital divide is just like the wealth gap - the rich get richer, while those who are less-fortunate get stuck.

There’s nothing wrong in being too fast. The UAE became an economic hub by being forward-thinking in its vision, backing it up with action that had eyes on the future. That etisalat is boldly preparing for an innovation expected to come out a decade later is proof that it’s never too early, never too soon, for a headstart. In a world filled with innovation that only gets more intricate by the day, you must plan ahead, and we believe etisalat and the UAE will not just be leaders on 6G, but be a vital resource for its development, helping others to keep up. You don’t just take everyone else for a ride — the journey counts as much as the destination, no matter how fast it is.

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