Ericsson to Commence Research on 6G Network Next Month

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By Emma Okonji

A new European 6G flagship research project, Hexa-X, will begin on January 1, 2021.
The project will focus on developing the vision for future 6G systems as well as developing key technology enablers to connect human, physical and digital worlds.

Hexa-X, the new European 6G flagship research project, brings together a strong consortium of major ICT, industry and academic stakeholders to lay 6G groundwork and set the direction for future research and standardisation focus areas.

The project, which comprises a consortium of European stakeholders representing the full value-chain of future connectivity solutions including network vendors, communication service providers, verticals, technology providers, and prominent European communications research institutes, represents a significant step toward laying the technical foundation for 6G wireless systems.

In its Outlook for 6G research paper, Ericsson identified four key drivers, which will emerge in what it calls “the 2030 era” and which the project will seek to address: trustworthiness of the systems, sustainability through mobile technology efficiency, accelerated automatisation and digitalization, and limitless connectivity.

The Hexa-X project, which was commissioned to run until June 2023, would be awarded from the European Commission under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program.

Ericsson, together with Nokia, would lead the project. Ericsson will also be represented across three European countries: Sweden, Turkey and Hungary.

As technical lead, Ericsson’s contribution is expected to be pivotal in laying the groundwork for future use cases, distributed MIMO, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and overall 6G vision and architecture. Ericsson will lead several tasks as well as the work packet on architectural enablers for 6G.

Vice President and Head of Ericsson Research, Magnus Frodigh, said: “We are proud to be the technical lead of the Hexa-X project, together with a strong line up of consortium partners from industry and academia. In 2030, society will have been shaped by 5G for ten years.

“While we continue to evolve 5G, now is also the right time to start collaborative 6G research activities.

The Hexa-X project will be an important vehicle for joint exploration across European industry and academia, together shaping how exponential technology evolution will meet anticipated demands and opportunities for the 6G era. The road to 6G begins today.”

The 6G research will continue to increase with 5G evolution and beyond, spurred by increasing expectations in society, accelerated by advancements in enabling technology, and leading towards new services and eco-systems that will improve lives of the world.

The Hexa-X project will lay the groundwork to bridge these physical, digital and human worlds closer together, firmly anchored in future wireless technology and architectural research, Frodigh said.

He, however, listed six challenges that must be addressed in the proposed 6G research to include: Connecting Intelligence; Network of Networks; Sustainability Increased Efficiency; Global Service Coverage; Extreme Experience and Trustworthiness.

According to him, connecting intelligence, which has to do with AI/ML technologies, needed to be a vital and trusted tool for significantly improved efficiency and service experience, serving humans.

“Network of networks, such as multiple types of resources need to be aggregated to create a digital ecosystem that grows more and more capable, intelligent, and heterogeneous, eventually creating a single network of networks.

“Sustainability increased efficiency in the use of resources and supporting new ways of living, while Global service coverage must be efficient and affordable solutions for global service coverage, connecting remote places,” it added.