02 March 2015
With operators under more pressure then ever before to innovate in order to get ahead of market demand, facilities dedicated to innovation have been cropping up in abundance over the last 18 months.
The 5G innovation centre
The University of Surrey, Huawei
When: September 2015
Where: Surrey, UK
What: In 2012, the University of Surrey announced its
plans for a 5G research centre. It has since attracted
£11.6 million from the UK Research Partnership Investment
Fund, followed by an additional £24 million from mobile
operators and infrastructure providers such as Samsung, Rohde
& Schwarz and Telefonica Europe. Last November, Huawei, a
founding member of the 5GIC, pledged a further £5 million
investment towards the centre which will be used as an
independent facility for researching and trialling 5G
completion in September 2015, the facility is expected to
deliver a live 5G infrastructure network covering the entire
University of Surrey campus, providing nearly 17,000 students
and staff with the latest technology. The facility will be used
for developing proof of concepts, to validate standards and
test vendor inter-operability. In addition, it will be the
first of its kind to test new technologies that will pave the
way to 5G.
"5GIC is in a
unique position to deliver next-generation communications
through close collaboration with telecommunication
world-leaders," says professor Rahim Tafazolli, head of 5GIC at
the University of Surrey.
university is developing a testbed which will be progressively
upgraded as 5G technology begins to emerge; allowing the next
wave of applications and services to be explored.
is open to all members and partners from anywhere in the world,
and a low cost means will be introduced for SMEs and startups
to test their innovations for 5G compatibility and showcase
will be built in three separate phases. Expected to be
operational by April 2015, the first phase will focus on
initiating and verifying a cloud-based radio access network for
an ultra-dense network demonstrating unprecedented capacity to
end users. This will then lead to the verification of the new
waveform designed for 5G, including sparse code multiple access
completion of the testbed would put the University of Surrey on
the forefront of technology, and it could likely attract other
technology funds that would enable it to compete with the likes
of Cambridge and Imperial College London who have led in the
5G transport lab
Ericsson, Acreo Swedish ICT, KTH Royal Institute of
When: March 2014
What: In partnership with research institute Acreo
Swedish ICT, and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Swedish
vendor Ericsson has established the Kista 5G Transport Lab.
facility is designed to kick start advances within network
transport infrastructure which the vendor believes is key to
fulfilling the promise of 5G networks and the Networked
by the Swedish governmental agency for innovation systems,
VINNOVA, the lab has 10 full-time researchers and staff split
between the three partners, with Ericsson hosting the lab
companies will use the lab to focus on structural and
architectural changes that look towards the advent of 5G in
2020. "We want to show how programmable transport networks can
be a platform for applications, user services and network
services," says Peter Öhlen, principal researcher, IP
& Transport, at Ericsson Research.
Acreo and KTH
are both leaders in transmission and networking research and
the unit is also focussed on the development of a stronger
cooperation framework between universities, operators and the
rest of the industry. Researchers from Acreo and KTH, as well
as PhD students, will contribute concept evaluations,
simulations, design and implementations for prototypes as part
of the development project.
Wosinska, a professor in the KTH School of Information and
Communication Technology, said that the lab is a chance to
utilise the school’s "broad expertise to solve
real problems and to face future challenges". The focus for the
first year will be to develop a DWDM-centric aggregation and
metro network solution, as well as small cell monitoring to
address network flexibility, network programmability and
and long-term collaborations like this prove the willingness of
all the partners to make a difference, both for the Kista
ecosystem and in developing conditions for world-class
research," says Anders Berntson, a department manager at Acreo
with expertise in broadband technology.
ZTE, TIM Brasil
When: July 2014
What: Last year, China’s ZTE partnered
with TIM Brasil for the implementation of a next-generation
broadband innovation centre in Brazil.
In a three
year framework agreement, the companies have agreed to design a
centre focussed on the research of broadband technologies such
as XGPON, NG-PON2 and G.Fast. The deal extends an existing
relationship between the companies, which have been
collaborating on network deployments in São Paulo and
Rio de Janeiro since 2012.
delighted to partner with TIM Brasil to develop broadband
technologies of the future," says Yu Xin, VP of ZTE at the
signing of the agreements at the Itamaraty Palace in
committed to investment in innovations in next generation
broadband technologies, which will be fundamental to the
development of future telecommunications and information
Brasil’s network covers 3.400 cities and
approximately 95% of the country’s urban
When: January 2015
What: With NFV adoption set to grow in the market,
Huawei launched its NFV lab in China in January this year. The
facility is designed to accelerate the development of the open
eco-system for NFV infrastructure, platforms and services.
Xian, China, the lab will also focus on developing multi-vendor
integration verification capabilities, and expanding joint
service innovations with whecustomers, partners and industrial
organisations. "The NFV open lab is an open innovation centre
of ICT convergence dedicated to being open and collaborative,
expanding joint service innovations with partners, and
developing the open eco-system of NFV," says Howard Liang, SVP
and president of global technical services at Huawei.
technology has been the driver behind a significant change in
user behaviour, including demands such as real-time, on-demand
and DIY connectivity. With this, new technologies have emerged
such as SDN and NFV, the latter of which allows traditional
telecoms networks to become faster, more flexible and more
believes that NFV adoption requires operators to overcome a
number of challenges such as ensuring the consistency,
reliability and interoperability of their multi-vendor
products; creating an optimised NFV O&M (operations and
maintenance) experience, and identifying new revenue
Alcatel-Lucent, Bell Labs
When: December 2013 – October 2014
Where: Silicon Valley, Israel, Taiwan, Tokyo
What: A pioneer in the field of innovation, French
vendor Alcatel-Lucent, and its Bell Labs subsidiary, has
launched a series of research facilities across the globe over
the last 18 months.
2013, the vendor targeted Taiwan with the launch of an
innovation centre in the country, designed to better serve
clients in the Asia-Pacific region.
innovation centre gives our customers a way to see and
experience Alcatel-Lucent products and services, and also work
in partnership with businesses from a wide range of industries
and markets to develop next-generation services," says Martin
Jordy, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Asia
Paci c region.
Thus far it
does appear to have deepened a number of
Alcatel-Lucent’s relationships within the country,
and in March last year the vendor secured a partnership with
Asia Pacifc Telecom (APT) for the deployment of an LTE
network in Taiwan.
Later in May,
Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent’s R&D subsidiary,
revealed plans to establish a research centre in Tel Aviv,
Israel. Planned in accordance with the vendor’s
financial restructuring strategy, the centre is located in
Alcatel- Lucent’s cloud facility which has heavily
focussed on network functions virtualisation (NFV).
this facility is directed at the cloud and the challenges
facing network evolution; largely revolving around
Alcatel-Lucent’s CloudBand technology which
provides operators with secure cloud services.
Weldon, president and CTO at Alcatel-Lucent, said that the
Israel facility marked a move from the vendor towards solving
realworld challenges. "Bell Labs is looking at solving the big,
real-world problems that will change the way we communicate,
collaborate and connect with each other and with our
'things’," Weldon explains.
"We know that
great new discoveries and innovations in cloud networking will
emerge from our new Tel Aviv unit."
2014 saw a focus on SDN as Bell Labs announced the launch of an
innovation unit in US technology hub, Silicon Valley. Weldon
hopes that the location of this facility will drive innovation,
as the company works on developing networks for the delivery of
cloud-based applications and services.
"We know that
the full impact of cloud computing will radically change not
only our industry but also the way we live, work and
communicate," he says.
"We expect to
tap both the innovative spirit of the rich west coast-based
technology community as well as the wealth of real-world
knowledge from Alcatel-Lucent’s successful IP
routing business with its SDN start-up, Nuage Networks, to
significantly change the course of the future," he says.
will be led by Sanjay Kamat, Bell Labs Consulting SDN/NFV group
leader, who in his previous role was focussed on
techno-economic issues related to emerging technologies.
From one side
of the world to the other, Tokyo is the latest city where
Alcatel-Lucent has set up camp. Named Customer Network Centre
(CNC), the innovation facility in Tokyo, Japan was launched in
October last year and is designed to provide demonstrations and
collaboration opportunities in advanced technologies for its
A range of
platforms are available in the facility, including
Alcatel-Lucent’s CloudBand NFV technology and SDN
solutions, and it is linked to the vendor’s
central NFV Competency Centre in Naperville, near Chicago in
the US, via cloud connectivity, allowing for demos and
of the Japan CNC is to support in an extremely collaborative
manner, and develop concrete customers projects involving
solutions that can be rolled out using the latest innovations
and cloud networks," says Nicolas Bouverot, president at
Alcatel-Lucent’s global footprint of innovation
centres is an attempt to gather talent from across the globe
and the vendor has similar facilities in further locations
across the US, France and Brazil; demonstrating a clear
commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovation.
Mobile broadband security
When: December 2014
Where: Berlin, Germany
What: With the arrival of new technologies and
services as a result of innovation, the opportunity for new
security threats and loopholes arise. With this in mind, Nokia
Networks launched a mobile broadband security centre in Berlin,
Germany in December last year.
Security Center (NSC) comprises a research lab and demo centre
with conference facilities as well as its own fully-operational
4G LTE test network.
developing robust telco security, the Finnish vendor hopes the
facility will make it stand out as a market leader in the
designing all its products with security built in and is
continuously expanding its security portfolio with our own
developments as well as with qualified partner products,"
explans Marc Rouanne, EVP of mobile broadband at Nokia
Networks. "Our solutions improve the security of our digital
reports have discovered that mobile malware growth has exceed
that of PC malware, and the NSC is designed to provide a
platform for co-operating with mobile network operators,
partners, governments and academic institutes in a bid to
develop and share security expertise.
"As IP become
all pervasive and as security threats become increasingly
diverse and sophisticated, network operators can no longer rely
on traditional security models," said Patrick Donegan, chief
analyst at Heavy Reading.
"The NSC in
Berlin is an important milestone in supporting operators as
they seek to respond to the challenges of the new security