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5G Is Barely Here, but Apple Is Already Planning for 6G

By Rich Duprey - Updated Feb 22, 2021 at 3:03PM

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There are still years to go before the next generation of wireless communication technology arrives.

For all its design innovation, Apple (AAPL 0.70%) is not particularly known for being in the vanguard of communications standards, lagging the Samsung S10 5G phone by 18 months before introducing its own model, the iPhone 12.

So it may be a surprise that although 5G is really just coming into its own, Apple is already looking to the future advent of 6G networks. According to a report last week by Bloomberg, the tech giant is hiring research engineers to work on the sixth generation of wireless technology.

Man leaping over gap between 5G and 6G

Image source: Getty Images.

The latest generation of wireless network connectivity first got notice after AT&T began updating certain Android phones with a 5G E icon to denote that customers were in areas with enhanced capabilities.

Other carriers didn't take kindly to the messaging because the service was still operating on 4G, and Sprint ended up suing because of it. T-Mobile, which acquired Sprint, launched the first stand-alone 5G network last year that wasn't based on 4G LTE technology.

Samsung's Galaxy S10 was released first in Korea before eventually making its way to the U.S. And though some analysts had doubts Apple's iPhone 12 would be a hit with consumers, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has become the most popular 5G smartphone in the U.S.

Now Bloomberg says Apple is getting ready for the next transition, and though 6G isn't expected to roll out until 2030 or later, the tech company is looking for people to design next-generation wireless communication systems and participate in forums about 6G technology.

As Apple becomes more vertically integrated, including the design of its own computer chips, it may no longer be happy with letting others blaze the trail with new technology.

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