5G vs 6G | Difference between 5G and 6G

This page compares 5G vs 6G and mentions difference between 5G and 6G. It covers basics of 5G vs 6G including their definitions and working in order to derive difference between 5G and 6G.

Introduction: The wireless telecommunication networks are widely deployed across the globe to tackle tremendous growth in the mobile handset market. This has lead to development of wireless standards from 1G to 6G. 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) has been formed by group of companies in order to develop and maintain protocols for mobile telecom technologies. It has started with major success in GSM standardization followed by UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA, LTE, LTE-advanced, 5G NR and 6G. Each of these standards support different wireless technologies which offer various data rates, coverages, subscriber densities and unique advanced features (services) for the users.

5G Wireless

The term 5G refers to fifth generation of wireless technology. With several years of research and testing 5G NR has been introduced recently in April, 2019. It precedes 4G LTE technology and follows same 3GPP roadmap. The specifications have been introduced from 3GPP Release 15 and Beyond.

There are different phases under which 5G NR (New Radio) will be deployed as per 3GPP specifications published in the december 2017. There are two main modes viz. Non-Standalone (NSA) and Standalone (SA) based on individual or combined RAT operation in coordination with LTE. In standalone mode, UE works by 5G RAT alone and LTE RAT is not needed. In non-standalone mode, LTE is used for control (C-Plane) functions e.g. call origination, call termination, location registration etc. where as 5G NR will focuse on U-Plane alone. The figure-1 depicts 5G NR architecture.

5G NR Overall architecture

Following are the features of 5G wireless technology.
• Bandwidth: Supports 1Gbps or higher
• Frequency bands: Sub-1 GHz, 1 to 6 GHz, > 6 GHz in mm bands (28 GHz, 40 GHz), Refer 5G bands>>.
• Peak data rate: Approx. 1 to 10 Gbps
• Cell Edge Data rate: 100 Mbps
• End to End delay : 1 to 5 ms
• Refer 5G basic tutorial for more information on 5G wireless technology and its network architecture.

6G Wireless

The term 6G refers to sixth generation of wireless technology. It is proposed to integrate advanced features in the existing 5G technology to fulfill objectives at individual and group levels. Some of the 6G services include holographic communications, Artificial intelligence, high precision manufacturing, new technologies such as sub-THz or VLC (Visible Light Communications), 3D coverage framework, terrestrial and aerial radio APs to provide cloud functionalities and so on.

At the time of writing as on June 2019, 5G has been installed and tested in major cities of USA by Sprint, Verizon and T-mobile where as 6G wireless is undergoing research. Companies such as Samsung and SK Telecom have started research in 6G wireless technology domain. Moreover SK telecom has joined hands with Ericsson and Nokia for research in 6G technology. 6G uses cell-less architecture in which UE connects to the RAN and not to a single cell.

6G Network Architecture

Following are the key technical features introduced in 6G wireless.
• New Spectrum : Due to increase in traffic demand and scarcity of spectrum resources THz (Terahertz) and Visible light bands have been introduced for communication in 6G mobile communication system.
• New channel coding has been introduced based on Turbo, LDPC, Polar, etc.
• Sparse theory (compressed sensing)
• Very large scale antenna processing for THz
• Advanced signal processing
• Flexible spectrum (Full (free) spectrum, Spectrum sharing)
• AI based wireless communication
• Space-Air-Ground-Sea integrated communication
• Wireless Tactile Network

5G vs 6G | Difference between 5G and 6G

Following table compares 5G vs 6G with respect to various parameters and mentions tabular difference between 5G and 6G wireless technologies. The informations have been collected from various research conducted on 5G and 6G areas across the globe.

Features 5G 6G
Frequency Bands • Sub 6 GHz,
• mmwave for fixed access
• Sub 6 GHz,
• mmwave for mobile accessm exploration of THz bands (above 140 GHz),
• Non-RF bands (e.g. optical, VLC) etc.
Data rate 1 Gbps to 20 Gbps (Downlink Data Rate - 20 Gbps, Uplink Data Rate - 10 Gbps) 1 Tbps
Latency (End to End Delay) 5 ms (Radio : 1 msec) < 1 ms (Radio : 0.1 msec)
Architecture • Dense sub 6 GHz smaller BSs with umbrella macro BSs
• Mmwave small cells of about 100 meters (for fixed access)
• Cell free smart surfaces at high frequencies (mmwave tiny cells are used for fixed and mobile access)
• Temporary hotspots served by drone mounted BSs or tethered Balloons.
• Trials of tiny THz cells (under progress)
Application types • eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband) •  URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications) •  mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communications) • MBRLLC •  mURLLC •  HCS •  MPS
Device types • Smartphones • Sensors •  Drones • Sensors & DLT devices •  CRAS •  XR and BCI equipment •  Smart implants
Spectral and energy efficiency gain 10 x in bps/Hz/m2 1000 x in bps/Hz/m3
Traffic Capacity 10 Mbps/m2 1 to 10 Gbps/m2
Reliability 10-5 10-9
Localization precision 10 cm on 2D 1 cm on 3D
User experience 50 Mbps 2D everywhere 10 Gbps 3D everywhere

Conclusion: The goal of 6G technology is to fulfill vision of 5G technology and in addition to meet Wisdom connection, Deep connectivity, Holographic connectivity and Ubiquitous connectivity. 5G accommodates different types of networks where as 6G aggregates them dynamically. In order to understand basics of 5G vs 6G i.e. difference between 5G and 6G, also refer difference between 4G versus 5G >>, advantages and disadvantages of 6G wireless technology >> as well as 5G technology related resources mentioned below.

Difference between 5G and 4G, 3G, 2G

2G vs 3G-Difference between 2G and 3G
3G vs 4G-Difference between 3G and 4G
Difference between 2.5G,2.75G,3.5G,3.75G,4G and 5G
3G    4G    5G
4G vs 4.5G vs 4.9G vs 5G


This 5G tutorial also covers following sub topics on the 5G technology:
5G basic tutorial    5G Frequency Bands    5G millimeter wave tutorial    5G mm wave frame    5G millimeter wave channel sounding    Difference between 4G and 5G    5G testing and test equipments    5G network architecture    5G NR Physical layer    5G NR MAC layer    5G NR RLC layer    5G NR PDCP layer

5G NR Numerology | 5G NR Terminology

This 5G tutorial also covers following sub topics on the 5G technology:
• 5G NR PHY timing unit   • 5G NR SLIV   • 5G NR Mini Slot   • 5G NR Bandwidth Part   • 5G NR CORESET   • 5G NR DCI Formats   • 5G NR UCI   • 5G NR slot formats   • 5G NR RRC IEs   • 5G NR RSRP RSRQ SINR  

5G NR Control channels | 5G NR Traffic Channels | 5G NR Reference Signals and sequences

RF and Wireless Terminologies