How the EU Can Become a World Leader in 6G


    May 09, 2022

    The EU: At the forefront in 6G research

    The European Union is playing a leading role in the area of 6G research. Already earlier this year, the EU has published its first 6G call for proposals under the EU Horizon Europe research, science and innovation instrument 2021-2027. 6G (sixth generation wireless) will be the successor to 5G cellular technology and it will commence to be deployed circa 2029/2030.        

    6G will be both evolutionary and revolutionary in its capabilities, performance and in the products that it will be able to provide for society at large.

    • 6G will command an expected data rate of 1 Tbit/s as opposed to 20 Gbit/s which is the existing case for 5G.
    • 6G will substantially improve video capabilities by strongly supporting, for example, holograms that will use volumetric video as opposed to the existing two dimensional model. This will greatly facilitate the sending of 3D images over the internet.
    • Lower latency rates, enhanced connectivity and a stronger capacity to transmit enormous levels of data at higher speeds will be central features of 6G.
    • 6G will facilitate the Internet of Senses where new virtual products and services related to smell, sight, taste, touch and sound will be developed.

    The link between 6G research and digitalization

    It takes around ten years to migrate from one generation of cellular technology to the next. So the basic research that is carried out in 2021 and 2022 into 6G will result in 6G deployment within ten years. Similarly, it is expected that 7G capability will be available by circa 2038 or 2039.

    It is very important that all key stakeholders from the private, public, research and educational communities work together to build global unitary 6G standards. This is because it will ensure that global supply chains will be able to operate more effectively and the economic cost for businesses will be reduced. Moreover, digitalization is now modernizing so many different vertical sectors. It is in the clear interests of businesses that unitary as opposed to de-coupled standards would apply to digital products and services that are related to the manufacturing, health, transport, energy, financial services, smart city and agriculture sectors in the 6G era.

    To achieve the goal of 6G unitary standards a number of tangible and sequential steps must take place:

    • A unitary approach to basic and applied research into 6G must take place. In other words, the public and private sectors across the world must work together in the pursuit of scientific excellence within the 6G research domain.
    • 6G standards must be global in nature and key organizations such as 3GPP, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) must play leading roles in the setting of these important economic standards.
    • Trade in 6G products will be open and transparent across the world on the basis that a unitary approach to both 6G research and 6G standard setting takes place.        

    Europe: Set to be a global standard setter for 6G

    The first 6G calls for proposals has been published by the European Commission in January 2022. These calls for proposals will cover the following areas of 6G research activity:

    • Large scale trials and pilots in support of the vertical sectors.
    • Ubiquitous radio access.
    • Green radio technology.
    • Evolved architecture for global green systems.
    • Edge computing evolution.
    • Real-time zero-touch service technology.
    • Communications infrastructure technologies and design.
    • Secure service development and smart security.
    • Systems architecture.
    • Sustainability.
    • 6G holistic systems.
    • Wireless technology and signal processing.

    These calls for proposals will cover the period 2021/2022 and the EU is allocating €240 million to finance these 6G calls. Horizon Europe is an open programme – so researchers and scientists from all over the world can engage in these collaborative 6G calls. The best way for excellence in science to be achieved is by open collaboration. The process of innovation should not be defined at any geographical border, as open collaboration in science achieves the optimum results for society. We should recall for a moment that it is through the open collaboration of researchers and scientists from all over the world that successfully and speedily produced vaccines to fight COVID.

    EU: Practical measures to deliver 6G

    The European Union is setting up a new entity called the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) that will in the future manage the calls for proposals under Horizon Europe that are connected to 6G. The 6G Smart Networks and Services Industry Association (6G-IA) has five members on the board of the SNS JU, while the European Commission has two nominees on this board. The 6GIA members cumulatively have 50% of voting rights on the SNS JU board and the European Commission members has 50% of voting rights. The SNS JU has broader responsibilities in the context of the rolling out of EU 6G strategies and SNS JU powers include the following:-

    • Aligning 6G policies with the 6G strategies of the different member states of the European Union.
    • Promote 6G standards setting within Europe and in a global context.
    • Ensure that EU 6G strategies are fully incorporated within the program that will be pursued under both the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the Digital Europe initiative.
    • Oversee on behalf of the European Union broader international engagement with third countries in the area of 6G. This is a very important issue. International collaboration between the public, private, research and educational communities will drive 6G innovation and deliver enhanced ICT connected products and services.   

    The bottom line is that by working together in 6G research, the world can achieve speedier, more concrete and better results for society. Working towards global 6G unitary standards must be a  central and key element of this strategy. Digital transformation is now an ongoing process – under 4G, 5G, 6G and beyond.

    Further Reading

    Download the Huawei white paper 6G The Next Horizon for more information about the 6G roadmap.

    Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.


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