Real Wireless joins 6G-IA

Real Wireless is pleased to share news that it has joined the 6G Smart Networks and Services Industry Association (6G-IA), the voice of European Industry and Research for next generation networks and services. We share a Europe-wide ambition to have leadership towards 6G. The vast majority of collaborative R&D spend in Europe will come through the commission of the 6G-IA eco-system.

For the past seven years, Real Wireless has been an active participant in Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation funding programme, now succeeded by Horizon Europe, and is now embarking on the next generation journey. Horizon Europe incorporates research and innovation missions to increase the effectiveness of funding by pursuing clearly defined targets. The Commission engaged policy experts to develop studies, case studies and reports on how a mission-oriented policy approach will work.

Real Wireless are proud to have participated in this journey of discovery that commenced in 2015 with the first project 5G-NORMA, followed by MoNArch in 2019, and then in 2020, the project currently being worked on, 5G-TOURS, due to be completed at the end of this year 2022.

At the start, the NORMA project was around validating the possible architectures for a cloud-defined network. The project looked at the implications of virtualisation and understanding that the ability to bring more cloud technologies into a network could bring significant gains in terms of total cost-of-ownership, so it was a TCO-based analysis. Also, modelling of a city network deployment in London was carried out and thus created our techno-economic practice, of which Real Wireless expert Julie Bradford is the Champion of.

Then for MoNArch we looked at the implications of 5G, around specific trials and testbed activity. There were two deployments; one was in the city for the museums, and there was a deployment in a port in Hamburg. Real Wireless focused our modelling on commercial case assessment capability to put a deployment of a network and a detailed model of deployment of macro and small cell equipment in the port environment and carried out detailed return on assessment calculations and looked at some of the potential benefits of the technologies from an environment and sustainability and governance, ESG, perspective. So, we were looking at some of the commercial benefits that could accrue if you were to deploy a network like that in a port.

The key benefits of this were that Real Wireless gained a deep understanding of the transport sector, and in particular the venues and locations, transport hubs and some of the tech-economics around networks that could be deployed in those locations. Also learning about the mixture of broadband and IoT technologies that would be used in an industrial setting.

For the current project, TOURS, Real Wireless are evaluating 5G innovations for the Consortium across three industrial sectors; health, transport and tourism. This will enable us to refine our understanding of deployments, both small cell and macro and in indoor and outdoor environments. Whilst not doing so much detailed modelling of the networks in this project, it was a deeper look around the commercial case of connectivity in those locations, and how to evaluate those innovations.

In the build-up to that activity, Real Wireless have been involved in a number of 6G discussions over the past two years about what could be the scope of technologies in 6G, and increasing an understanding of the implications of AI. In 2021 Real Wireless participated in a forward-looking paper – European Vision for the 6G Network Eco-system – that outlined the scope of technologies that need to be included in 6G activity and eco-system, supported by the then 5G-IA industry Association. Real Wireless was the only UK-attributed company that contributed to the paper, while 6G still has some time to emerge, this is an early warning sign that more initiative from UK industry is needed to keep on the cutting edge in telecoms infrastructure research and investment.

Whilst still keeping an eye on the maturing and sunsetting of previous generations we are always looking forward, understand and influencing the shaping of 6G. The project funding mechanisms have changed; there is now a requirement that in order to participate in discussions and be involved in Horizon Europe projects one needs to be a member of the Industrial association, it shows your commitment to, and our openness to collaborate and contribute to the eco-system of EU-funded projects.

Real Wireless considers it necessary to counteract any negative perceptions coming from some quarters of the UK regarding Brexit. Membership of 6G-IA is important for Real Wireless as a way to signal to our European friends and customers that even though we are based in the UK we are still very much an active part of the European eco-systems and to make it clear that we are committed to being an international business.

We are not anticipating 6G to be deployed in anger other than in a few pilot and trials networks in the short term, but by 2028 we may see some commercial deployments in Korea or Japan, the US possibly, but this will be tightly coupled activity between the Tier 1 vendors and Operators, the usual scenario, but is not expected to be widely available then. We have time, and it is time well spent in the business to be evaluating the 6G concepts and understanding where we are going to be in five years, and what new capabilities we need to develop.

Alongside other European collaborators over the past two years, Real Wireless has been involved and seen the build-up of 6G discussions. AI is still of high importance, and we need to see the real implications that has on the infrastructure, but it is early days in terms of understanding how it could disrupt future of networks. Tier 1 operators are looking at 6G to understand what the new capabilities are. AI is an important area that needs to be understood and is a key motivation going forward. The implications of the software-isation of infrastructure, continuing cloudification and virtualisation and adding more AI capabilities will be critical. We welcome the refreshing of the wireless industry statements regarding energy efficiency, leaning into the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN by shaping technology and architectures that fit into the NetZero agenda is essential.

Real Wireless are excited to continue this journey and embarking on 6G, whilst continuing to collaborate to develop the 5G infrastructure.