Analyst house Juniper Research became one of the first to predict initial 6G numbers, forecasting the technology to hit 290 million connections globally within two years of expected launches in 2029, assuming potential technical issues are addressed.

The company flagged expected challenges for the network generation include the issue of interference arising from the use of high-frequency spectrum. Minimising this, it noted was the most pressing concern for operators with 6G.

Compared with current 5G networks, 6G is forecast to offer 100-times greater throughput.

However the technology still very much in the development phase, with standards undefined and many operators having not even launched standalone 5G yet.

Juniper Research noted operators would need to invest in reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RIS) technology to mitigate interference caused by large objects. This, it claimed would work by “purposefully reflecting and refracting 6G mobile signals to enable data packets to move around physical obstacles”.

Research analyst Alex Webb said: “Initial 6G coverage will occur in the most densely populated geographical areas to serve as many users as possible. Therefore, RIS technology will be key to providing a valuable 6G service to both consumer and enterprise customers in the first few years of network operation.”

At the point where Juniper Research expects 6G to reach 290 million connections, GSMA Intelligence predicts in its 2023 mobile economy report that 5G will have surpassed 5 billion connections.