Nokia named project leader for Europe's Hexa-X

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Nokia has been appointed project leader for the 6G research initiative Hexa-X, scheduled to kick off in January.

Funded by the European Commission under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, it is the first official 6G research project across the industry ecosystem and will "drive the overall 6G vision".

With a remit to "connect human, physical and digital worlds with a fabric of 6G technology enablers", the project's 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.

As project leader, Nokia will lead the 6G joint research and pre-standardisation process and Nokia Bell Labs is already researching the fundamental technologies that will comprise 6G. Nokia said it expects 6G systems to launch commercially by 2030, following the typical 10-year cycle between generations.

Peter Vetter, head of access and devices research at Nokia Bell Labs, said: “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. Such a secure and private connection can be used for preventive healthcare or even to create a 6G network with a sixth sense that intuitively understands our intentions, making our interactions with the physical world more effective and anticipating our needs, thereby improving our productivity.”

It isn't Nokia's first involvement in 6G. the Finnish firm is also involved in  6Genesis, a national 6G program funded by the Academy of Finland and led by the University of Oulu, and Horizon Europe Smart Networks and Services, which aims to secure European leadership for the development and deployment of next generation network technologies and services, while accelerating European industry digitalisation.

Ahead of the two-and-a-half-year Hexa-X project launching on 1 January, 2021, Nokia Bell Labs, together with the Hexa-X consortium, has identified six research challenges to address in order to lay the technical foundation for 6G wireless systems.

These are:

  • Connecting intelligence: AI/Machine Learning (ML) technologies need to be a vital and trusted tool for significantly improved efficiency and service experience, serving humans

  • Network of networks: multiple types of resources need to be aggregated to create a digital ecosystem that grows more and more capable, intelligent, and heterogeneous, eventually creating a single network of networks

  • Sustainability: energy-optimized digital infrastructure for a reduced global ICT environmental footprint, as well as delivering effective and sustainable digitization tools for global industry, society and policymakers

  • Global service coverage: efficient and affordable solutions for global service coverage, connecting remote places

  • Extreme experience: extreme bitrates, extremely low (imperceptible) latencies, seemingly infinite capacity, and precision localization and sensing

  • Trustworthiness: ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of communications and delivering data privacy, operational resilience and security