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5G is here, since researchers are starting looking at 6G

The number of references to 6G is growing, a sign that 5G is really coming. Image credit: RCR Wireless News

As of today there are over 8 million references to 6G, the next wireless system, the one following 5G. A clear indication that although 5G has not really started the deployment research is not stopping. Today there are several trials on 5G, Verizon has announced the start up of the 5G service in a few areas in Chicago and Minneapolis in April but it will be more of a trial than real service since 5G phones are not yet available, the Samsung Galaxy S10 will become available somewhere before June, and the first users will have to connect their 4G phone to a little box receiving the 5G signal.

Obviously it will take at least 15 years to have the rolling out of the first 6G systems (that means around 2035) and 5G will keep growing for a few more years after that (ETSI estimated a few years ago the peak in adoption for 5G around 2040), as it is now happening with 4G that is expected to grow for a few more years, at least till 2025.

Personally, I do not consider 5G as the ultimate solution, just as the best we will have for the next decade. Actually, I consider 5G as a transition system, the transition from networks built by Telecom Operators in a top down way to the future networks that will be built bottom up, with the core network consisting of software, owned by a few large (non telco) companies, possibly running/hosted on the big data centres of the big 9 (G-MAFIA and BAT) to which I hope a few more (1 or 2 from Europe) will be added.

In the future, terminals (no longer terminals but network nodes and creators of networks) will be even more important making up the communications fabric that my grandchildren will be using every day. Big connection pipes will still exist (for as long as I can imagine) but will be owned as a public resource, a commodity that has to be provided by any Country, the same way highways and roads have to be provided and maintained.

I made this point a few years ago, saying that 5G is just the system before 6G, not the end of the line in G numbering, and it seems I was right, but fully open to your comments and possible disagreement.


About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.


  1. I predict that will will have 7G at the year 2032

  2. Sounds like IEEE vision is getting it’s way in term of network infra and yes big cloud companies are doing all to host cellular network virtualization on their cloud and their actual lobby in EU is huge.
    The big change is that compare to other commodities this would then be one of the only not manage and owned and controlled by the local states but by private companies at least in EU, For the good or for the bad …?