€900m 6G project to replace 5G-PPP
The strategic partnership on Smart Networks and Services has a research budget of over €900m to 2027 to work on 6G technologies and boost the rollout of 5G, superceding the existing 5G-PPP operation.
The move is a deliberate shift to foster Europe’s technological ‘sovereignty’ in 6G.
“A key differentiator to the predecessor, the 5G-PPP, will be a new governance model putting the European industry in the driving seat together with the Commission and closely associating Member States to its strategic decision making, for example in the area of Europe’s technological sovereignty and maximizing synergies between European and national funding programmes,” said partnership.
The proposal for the new scheme will now be discussed among Member States in the Council with a planned launch in autumn 2021.
The Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking is one of nine under the €10bn Horizon Europe programme. This will work alongside the €1.8bn Joint Undertaking in Key Digital Technologies which covers the design, manufacture and integration of electronics components in systems and the related software where a possible new ‘Important Project of Common European Interest’ is under discussion. “This new partnership will help boost competitiveness and Europe’s technological sovereignty.” said the digital undertaking.
As well as 6G, the Smart Networks project will also boost 5G deployment in Europe to develop digital lead markets and of enabling the digital and green transition of the economy and society, particularly with 5G corridors. It will also contribute to the coordination with national programmes including under the Recovery and Resilience Facility as well as other European programmes and facilities such as Digital Europe Programme and InvestEU.
Operators in 23 EU countries have already launched commercial 5G networks in major cities, with more comprehensive deployment covering all urban areas and major transport paths across Europe expected by 2025. These 5G networks are key enablers for a broad range of consumer, business and industrial services, but will also be an important starting point for the introduction of 6G technologies in Europe.
This work on 6G has already started with the Hexa-X flagship project in Europe within 5G-PPP that includes Nokia, but there is a risk of being left behind.
“Our trading partners are heavily engaged in 6G developments, including the USA and Japan, with focus on software-based networks and China aiming to build on its strong technology and Intellectual Property Rights position,” says the Joint Udertaking. “There will be opportunities and challenges concerning new business models and players through software networks with architectures such as Open RAN and the convergence with new technologies in the area of cloud and edge computing, AI, as well as components and devices beyond smartphones. The two major European equipment suppliers are in a world-leading position, with a combined global mobile equipment market share in the order of 40 percent and more than 50 percent of the relevant Intellectual Property Rights.”
“Building on this basis, that was created also thanks to the European R&I investments under the 5G-PPP over the last seven years, Europe needs to position itself to ensure the best outcome both for the digital economy at large, but also for the technology capabilities of our existing and emerging industrial leaders. This calls for a strategic partnership with a solid R&I roadmap set out and followed by a critical mass of European actors.”
This is significant for the discussion on critical components and supply chain currently happening in the European Commission.
The other programmes in the €10bn Horizon Europe programme include clean hydrogen, clean aviation and health.
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