The European Commission (EC) has appointed Nokia, a Finnish international telecommunications, information technology and consumer electronics company, to supervise Hexa-X, a primary 6G research project aimed at boosting the continent’s progress in developing the technology.
The two-and-a-half-year Hexa-X initiative was funded by Horizon 2020, the EU’s research, and innovation program, and will start on January 1, 2021. The project is aimed at connecting the physical, digital and human worlds, firmly embedded in future wireless technologies.
The project is led by Nokia, which coordinates the efforts, with Ericsson being assigned as the technical manager. The partners in the consortium are from academia and industry, including service providers, network providers and European research institutes. The partners include Orange, TIM, Telefonica, Intel and Siemens.
The Finnish service provider said in a statement that it expects 6G to become commercially operational by 2030, following a normal ten-year intergenerational cycle and taking into account forecasts from other industry players at the 6G Symposium in October.
Peter Vetter, Head of Access and Devices Research at Nokia Bell Labs, commented: “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.”
The objectives of the Hexa-X project are to present new 6G use cases and scenarios, to develop reference technologies and to lay out a new architecture that integrates 6G technologies. Nokia already has experience in research and work on precedent standards. Its Nokia Bell Labs industry research team, based in New Jersey, US, has helped develop key 5G technologies used in new radio specifications such as Massive MIMO, millimeter wave access and 5G stack design.
Nokia is also participating in other European 6G efforts, as well as in North America. The vendor is part of the ATIS Next G Alliance, which focuses on North American leadership in 6G, and includes US and Canadian operators and technology giants such as Facebook, Microsoft and Qualcomm. Ericsson and Samsung are part of the ATIS 6G coalition as well.