EU backs public-private partnership to boost 5G research in Europe

5G PPP Association will look to develop a new generation of technologies to succeed LTE after 2020, including the use of centimeter and millimetre wave spectrum and ultra-dense small cell deployments

EU backs public-private partnership to boost 5G research in Europe

5G research was given a boost this week after the European Commission and the 5G PPP Association signed a contract to create a 5G public-private partnership (PPP) on 17 December 2013. The 5G PPP will further develop 5G technology to prepare for the future standardisation of the system and components that are expected to be deployed in the next decade.

The 5G PPP brings together a broad range of stakeholders from the telecommunications and IT sectors as well as from research institutes. The founding members of the association are Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), Orange and satellite operator SES.

“This is an important milestone towards an industry-wide agreement on use cases, requirements and technologies for 5G,” said Dr. Werner Mohr, head of research alliances, NSN, who will chair the 5G PPP Association (pictured).

“LTE and its continuous evolution will be sufficient until the end of the decade. However, after 2020 a new generation of technologies will be needed to address market demands. The industry and academia are working together to create a high-performance 5G environment.”

Ericsson noted that the communication network and service environment of 2020 and beyond will be infinitely richer and more complex than today. It is expected that in the next decade the network infrastructure will be capable of connecting people, machines and information in a flexible and truly mobile way. The future will encompass connected sensors, connected vehicles, smart meters and smart home gadgets way beyond our current experience of tablet and smartphone connectivity.

The 5G PPP will address the novel infrastructure requirements that will be needed to cater for these challenging and unprecedented growth and performance characteristics with a specific attention to energy efficiency. There may be a need to redefine the value chains, reinvent the roles and relationships between the players, whilst opening new innovation opportunities.

At the same time, the introduction of virtualisation and of software based network functionalities will require more flexibility and reactivity from the networks. These new network requirements, technologies and architectures will introduce a huge range of industrial opportunities for both established and new actors and also for SMEs, Ericsson said.

NSN said it is conducting research on the flexible use of spectrum and its propagation in new, higher bands, both for centimeter and millimeter wave (see below). In addition, the company is working on system design for ultra-dense small cell deployments to deliver the high data rates and ultra-low latency that will be needed to support future use cases such as augmented reality and tactile Internet.

Other major research areas for NSN are wide area enhancements, including efficient support of machine type communication; and 5G architecture to integrate existing and new technologies. NSN is also analyzing how 5G may be adapted to such new uses as smart grids, homes or cities.

Centimeter waves

Design of a new 5G technology in centimeter waves, which will be optimised for dense local area deployments, will allow a significant reduction in air interface latency and prepare the grounds for an in-built support of interference management and efficient device-to-device communications, machine-type communications and self-backhauling.

Millimeter waves

Millimeter waves are an opportunity for a big step in achievable data rates and system capacity by increase in spectrum availability – large blocks of consecutive spectrum are available in the mmWave region that can potentially be used for mobile communications. The main research task in this domain is how to overcome propagation challenges in millimeter wave bands.

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