The 5th generation of wireless technology, or simply 5G, is yet to cement its presence worldwide. Today, few telcos around the world have rolled out 5G, and, for most of them, the rollout is limited to few zones. A recent GSA report shows 5G is only available in 38 countries as of August, up from the 24 reported in March.
However, the slow adoption doesn’t hinder research on the next-gen of wireless technology, 6G, from taking off. Nokia has been chosen to lead the European Commission’s 6G flagship initiative for research that will drive the overall 6G vision. The project, known as Hexa-X, will commence on 1 January 2021 and will take around two and a half years.
The Finnish tech giant Nokia will lead the joint research and also the pre-standardization process.
The project goals include creating unique 6G use cases and scenarios, developing fundamental 6G technologies, and defining a new architecture for an intelligent fabric that integrates key 6G technology enablers.
The European Commission funds Hera-X under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. This, according to Nokia, is a significant step toward bringing together key industry stakeholders in Europe to take the lead in advancing 6G.
Significant stakeholders in Hera-X include most prominent European communications research institutes and the entire value chain needed to enable future connectivity solutions from network vendors to communication service providers, verticals, and technology providers.
Hera-X focuses on connecting the physical, digital, and human worlds firmly anchored in future wireless technology and architectural research.
Wireless technologies are critical for society and the economy today. The company said their importance would continue to steadily increase with 5G and its evolution, enabling new ecosystems and services.
Nokia on 5G and 6G
Although Nokia has just been selected to lead the EU into 6G, its research arm, Nokia Bell Labs, is already researching the building blocks of 6G. 6G is expected to officially launch in 2030 if it upholds the usual 10-year cycle between generations.
Hera-X consortium, together with Nokia Bell Labs, has already identified challenges that will have to be addressed in building 6G.
Nokia has been an active participant in 5G, and the company is already involved in multiple 6G research initiatives in Europe. Its research arm is also actively conducting research and coming up with innovations that help develop 5G standards like Massive MIMO and mmWave access.
“Even though there is still a lot of innovation in 5G with the release of new standards, we are already exploring 6G in our research lab. In the 6G era, we will see applications that will not only connect humans with machines but also connect humans with the digital world,” said Peter Vetter, Nokia Bell Labs’ Head of Access and Devices Research.
Airtel Kenya selected Nokia to lay 5G foundations in Kenya. Nokia is also helping NASA build the first-ever cellular network on the moon.
Recently Nokia set a new record by achieving 8Gbps on 5G.
Nokia is not the only company focusing on the next generation of wireless networks, 6G. Samsung, Ericsson, and LG have also shown interest. China became the first country to launch an initiative to conduct 6G research and development last year immediately after launching 5G.