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UK Government Suddenly Moots 6G Mobile Networks – Before 5G Exists

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 (8:39 am) - Score 4,211

At present the next generation of 5G based Mobile Broadband networks haven’t even been defined and the first commercial services aren’t expected to surface until around 2020. But that hasn’t stopped the Government from putting an early investment towards the distant future 6th Generation (6G) replacement for 5G. Well, sort of.

Admittedly the Government aren’t being quite as specific as this might all sound. Instead today’s announcement revolves around a comparatively tiny commitment of £15 million to “train the next generation of quantum engineers“, which they claim will be able to build innovative new products “like 6G smartphones“.

Apparently the investment, which is to be managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will thus go towards setting up several quantum technologies “skills hubs” across the UK. The hubs will then help PhD students with their training and career development programmes.

Vince Cable, Government Business Secretary, said:

From cameras that can see through smoke to cracking down on internet fraud, quantum technologies are taking innovation to a whole new level and offer an unparalleled opportunity to shape the next generation of high-tech products that will improve our day-to-day lives.

This £15 million investment will ensure we have the flexible, highly-skilled workforce needed to turn these futuristic ideas into a reality.”

Greg Clark, Universities, Science and Cities Minister, said:

Quantum technologies are set to transform the way we live, pushing the boundaries of knowledge which will benefit healthcare, communications and security.

Quantum skills will allow us to bring game-changing advantages to future timing, sensing and navigation capabilities, in a sector that could be worth more than £1 billion to the UK economy. That is why we are investing up to £15 million to train specialists with the right entrepreneurial and business skills to ensure we have the talent to keep us ahead of growing international competition.”

It should be said that some quantum technologies, such as quantum computers, have yet to practically and economically prove their worth. Meanwhile a lot of the science around how the quantum world actually works is still in flux as physicists continue the constant pursuit towards a grand Theory of Everything.

But it’s good to dream and show ambition, it’s also good to put money towards supporting those who might well be able to turn such discoveries into useful products for future generations. But first we need to fully understand how the quantum world works and it then tends to take many years before such research gets turned into useful products.

So don’t be expecting that Star Trek style transporter system, which could make your weekly grocery shopping quicker, or quantum 6G smartphones to be showing up anytime soon. Maybe in a few decades.. assuming we aren’t all first wiped out by war, asteroids or the long predicted great invasion by super-intelligent Dolphins (most likely following experiments conducted in one of the aforementioned technology hubs).

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