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Faster, higher, stronger

Everyone must surely be wondering how long the upcoming 5G cellular network standard will be able to feed private and industrial users’ insatiable appetite for data. Under the auspices of the EU's TERRANOVA project, a team of Fraunhofer experts has teamed up with partners from industry and research to investigate 6G.

10 Nov. 2017

The TERRANOVA team will be working on embedding terahertz wireless solutions in glass-fiber networks for high data transfer rates and harnessing new frequency bands right through till the end of 2019. The aim is to pave the way for a robust communications infrastructure that is fit to meet future requirements. In 2010, the launch of the current 4G cellular network technology heralded the first data transfer rates on mobile end devices to rival fixed-line internet access, although coverage was admittedly patchy. However, this new standard also triggered developments in video telephony, on-demand video broadcasts on smartphones and above all machine and car networking that created an insatiable appetite for data.

The theoretical LTE data rates of up to one gigabit per second are increasingly stifling new applications. By now, industry in particular is crying out for solutions, as the growing number of networked devices and machines generates mushrooming volumes of data traffic that need transporting as quickly and accurately as possible. The forthcoming 5G cellular network technology, with a transmission rate of up to ten gigabits per second, promises a huge leap in the performance of wireless communications. But it is already clear that the available frequency bands will not be able to cope with the growing demand for stable wireless communications beyond the short term. This realization has spurred on researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF and the Heinrich Hertz Institute - HHI at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications - together with other industrial and research partners involved in the EU-sponsored TERRANOVA project to get straight down to work on the next-but-one cellular network standard. The development consortium’s mission is clear - to set up a terahertz-frequency network connection that is stable enough to transfer data wirelessly at speeds of up to 400 gigabit per second.


Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (D-10587 Berlin)