The University of Bristol and partners have been granted nearly £12 million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to develop and industrialise technologies and solutions for future 6G mobile networks.
The project, Realising Enabling Architectures and Solutions for Open Networks (REASON) brings together an ecosystem representing the entire telecommunication R&D supply chain, including three major mobile network equipment vendors, Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia.
REASON will develop a roadmap for open 6G networks, which will set the framework for new developments across the entire technology stack. The project will provide novel solutions to effectively integrate multi-technology access networks and to advance their performance in line with the emerging 6G KPIs. New concepts will be proposed to support unprecedented network densification. Smart technologies will be developed that aim to use multi-technology access networks to extract sensing information and support 6G use cases.
In addition, advanced solutions for network-edge and network-wide automation will be developed leveraging state-of-the art artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. REASON aims to provide end-to-end service optimisation through cognitive orchestration tools to enable edge-to-edge and domain-domain functionalities for a wide range of use cases.
Project Lead Professor Dimitra Simeonidou of Bristol’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering said: “University of Bristol is delighted to lead this partnership and drive the development of future open 6G network solutions in the UK.
“Our project, REASON, is engaging a consortium of partners representing the entire telecoms R&D ecosystem, including leading UK Universities, large equipment vendors, service and content providers and innovative SMEs. REASON will address key technological challenges of delivering End-to-End Open Network solutions, considering all segments of the network. The project will pursue breakthroughs on elevating bottlenecks of current systems, such as interoperability, agility, sustainability, resilience, security, and will position UK-born technologies as candidates for delivering future solutions.”
The grant is part of the government’s strategy to reduce the UK’s reliance on a small number of suppliers to build and maintain telecoms networks, and the funding will support the roll out of lightning-fast mobile connectivity by making it easier for more firms to enter the market.
Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan visited the University’s Smart Internet Lab ahead of the announcement last week. She said: “The technology powering our phone and internet networks is evolving rapidly and with 6G on the horizon we must stay ahead of the curve.
“This government investment will see top UK universities join forces with industry to develop the nuts and bolts underpinning new networks, create skilled jobs testing the security of the latest telecoms tech, and ensure our plan for a more diverse and innovative 5G market is sustained in the future.
“The funding will also turbocharge our work to strengthen telecoms supply chains so we are no longer reliant on a handful of companies to develop and maintain our 5G networks.”
Simon Fletcher, CTO Real Wireless, said: “Real Wireless is delighted to be part of this exciting UK initiative. REASON is important because it’s explicitly focused on forging a technology and development roadmap for advanced communications networks linked to socio-economic requirements and outcomes. We’re sure that the project consortium will benefit from our capabilities that have developed within advanced European 5G projects such as 5G TOURS and 5G MoNArch, and from private network initiatives with forward-thinking cities like Liverpool and Belfast. We look forward to shaping the energy efficiency potential, alongside other key techno-economic aspects linked to densification and the potential for standardisation of the emerging technologies,”
Dan Warren, Director of Advanced Network Research at SRUK commented: “Samsung has wanted to engage in UK government backed research for many years, and the opportunity that the REASON consortium offered was too good to pass up. We are delighted to be working with the other project partners to advance the application of AI to network technologies, and look forward to progressing the path to a larger ecosystem of vendors in the UK through the adoption of the UK Government open network principles.”
Magnus Frodigh, VP & Head of Ericsson Research, said: “Ericsson is looking forward to working in close partnership with the winners of the Future Open Networks Research Challenge in the UK. Through this government funded program and our own recently announced multi-million pound 6G research investment, the country is ready to begin the journey of developing future network technologies, architectures, and global standards as well as leading the way to an efficient and sustainable society powered by limitless connectivity for a cyber-physical continuum.”
The move will bolster the UK’s status as a global leader in telecoms research and follows Ericsson and Samsung’s recent decision to set up cutting-edge 6G research centres in the UK.
University of Strathclyde
King’s College London
Queens University Belfast
University of Southampton
Compound Semiconductor Centre-CSC
British Broadcasting Corporation-BBC
Parallel Wireless Limited
Weaver Labs Limited
Real Wireless Limited