Europe’s research and innovation (R&I) community has been gathering virtually this week at the European Conference on Networks and Communications (EuCNC) to discuss and showcase the progress and latest trends in 5G and other communication technologies. In particular, the conference featured thematic sessions on key developments in the area of 5G cybersecurity, Open Radio Access Networks, as well as 5G for vertical industries. Thought leaders presented the latest initiatives towards the development of 5G lead markets in Europe and outlined the most promising paths towards beyond 5G and 6G.
The conference programme mirrors the main activities under the 5G-PPP. It is now entering into its final phase building innovation ecosystems under the 5G trial strategy. The portfolio of ongoing projects will now be complemented with 11 new projects to be launched as of September 2020. This will make the whole 5G-PPP trial project portfolio worth more than € 400 million of EU funding, and will leverage far more than € 1 billion of private investment in 5G vertical trials, reinforcing Europe's leading position in this field.
The three new 5G cross-border projects will design, test and validate use cases in the field of mobility and transport. They will broaden the validation of connected and automated mobility features to roads, train, ports and maritime routes. Each project will provide a 5G network infrastructure that offers both multi-service and multi-application features to varied means of transport (such as cars, trucks, trains, pods, barges and boats), as well as improved connectivity to public users.
Each of them will operate under different geographic conditions and associated weather constraints: the Baltic and North Sea (5G-Routes and 5G-Blueprint) and the Pyrennees mountains (5GMED). Two of the three projects will take place over sections of 5G cross-border corridors which are supported by a cross-border cooperation agreement, with Via Baltica between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (5G-Routes) and the recently signed memorandum of understanding between the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium) covering Rotterdam, Antwerp and the North Sea Port area.
The three projects will be complementary to the three 5G corridor trial projects launched in November 2018. Their findings will provide the necessary know-how in view of the envisaged large-scale deployment of 5G corridors in Europe, which is expected to be supported by the upcoming Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Digital Programme over the 2021-2027 period.
The projects bring together a broad variety of stakeholders: telecom operators and vendors, road operators, rail infrastructure managers, transport and logistic companies, vehicle manufacturers and their equipment suppliers, railway equipment manufacturers, innovative SMEs and public and private research centres, with the direct participation of transport authorities and the support of national and regional national governments. Altogether they will contribute to the definition of innovative cooperation models that will drive investment in the large-scale deployment of 5G corridors across Europe.
Their combined budget amounts to €41 million, of which €31.1 million is EU funding under the Horizon 2020 programme.
5G core technology innovation projects
The eight new 5G hardware innovation projects will build a first-class European industrial supply chain for core 5G technologies and hardware devices, and notably for network technologies and systems, while creating market opportunities and supporting the emergence of new innovative market players.
The Coordination and Support Action (CSA) COREnect will define the core hardware components opportunities for Europe as well as the related R&I and investment requirements. It will deliver a European roadmap for hardware enabling technologies supporting European technological sovereignty objectives for connectivity platforms.
Seven innovation actions (IA) will build on key 5G technological blocks, primarily hardware-based, and will cover the integration and validation of components within an overall 5G architecture. The projects will address innovation in promising vertical use cases such as content management, coordinated auto mobility platooning, Non Public Networks, Data ecosystems and ultra-high data rates (using the THz frequencies), while also investigating new business approaches in many areas, such as Open Radio Access Networks, disaggregated systems, edge networking, and neutral host concepts.
Last wave of 5G-PPP projects
Another wave of projects for approximately € 100 million will be launched this year under the last Work Programme of Horizon 2020. The last two calls close in June 2020, featuring 5G software innovation and more forward-looking projects Beyond-5G.
5G cross-border corridors projects’ details
5GMed will test use cases for connected and automated mobility (CAM), including road and rail, on the basis of the same 5G network infrastructure along the Figueras-Perpignan cross-border corridor. For that purpose, it will bring together key stakeholders including MNOs, road and rail operators, as well as innovative SMEs and research centres. 5GMed will in particular demonstrate the multi-application and multi-stakeholder features of the 5G infrastructure for the joint delivery of use cases in the field of road and rail, as well as connectivity to road users and train passengers, implementing the latest 5G standards over 3.5 GHz and 5.9 as well as unlicensed mm-wave, network slicing and service orchestration.
5G-Routes will test and validate over 150km of the Via Baltica corridor, with a ferry extension to Helsinki, including ports and maritime routes, different CAM use cases enabled by 5G high-performance capabilities, covering several scenarios in automated cooperative, awareness and sensing driving. 5G-ROUTES will also focus on uninterrupted infotainment passenger services on the go and on multimodal services in the context of complete connectivity-enabled ecosystems around passengers and cargo over 3 different modes of transport vehicles, rails and maritime.
5G-Blueprint will design and validate a technical architecture, business model and governance model for uninterrupted cross-border teleoperated transport for roads and maritime based on 5G connectivity between the ports of Antwerp (Belgium) and Vlissingen (Netherlands). The project will test and validate advanced CAM use cases remote operation of trucks, cars, pods, and barges. The project’s outcome should be usable as the blueprint for subsequent operational pan-European deployment of teleoperated transport solutions in the logistics sector and beyond.
5G core technologies innovation projects’ details
COREnect is a coordination and support action and will provide a road-mapping service to European players. It will help to support the development of business cases and to foster the creation and support of an ecosystem bringing European microelectronics and telecommunications players together, both from industry and academia but also from industry associations in network, microelectronics and verticals domains. The overall goal is to establish a sustainable European technological sovereignty in 5G and beyond by promoting innovation and business opportunities for SMEs, paving the way for one or more future European champions in this area. The project will lay down the foundation for a long-term collaboration of the European Smart Networks and Services (SNS) and Key Digital Technologies (KDT) communities, as well as other related communities (high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, photonics, internet of things (IoT) and cloud computing).
5G-Records will explore the opportunities to bring new 5G technology components to professional audio-visual content production. The project will take a business-to-business perspective, and plans to use non-public networks. SMEs are well represented. All technology components covered in the proposals are expected to reach a technology readiness level of 7. The project includes three challenging scenarios of professional content production: live audio production, a multi-camera wireless studio and live immersive media production.
Affordable5G will create a 5G network that delivers a complete and affordable solution covering the needs of private and enterprise networks through technical innovation spanning all parts of the network. It includes cell densification, Remote Units/Distributed Units/Central Units split, hardware acceleration, edge computing and core network virtualization, seamlessly combined with the adoption of open source RAN (Radio Access Network), MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) and MANO (Management and Orchestration) solutions, for cloud-native, micro-service based deployments. The solution will be evaluated and validated in two vertical pilots related to emergency communications and smart cities.
DRAGON aims at high capacity wireless solutions for 5G in the D-band range (very high frequencies), building on the results of the DREAM project. The project presents innovation potential in several areas, e.g. transceiver architecture, antennas and packaging. It may leverage European companies in the semiconductor market to obtain a stronger position in the 5G domain.
5G-LOGINNOV will design an innovative framework integrating and validating CAD/CAM technologies related to industry 4.0 and the ports domains. The project plans to integrate 5G technological blocks, including a new generation of 5G terminals, new types of IoT 5G devices, data analytics, next-generation traffic management and emerging 5G networks, for city ports to handle upcoming and future capacity, traffic, efficiency and environmental challenges. It will open SMEs’ and start-ups’ door to these new markets using its three Living Labs as facilitators and ambassadors for innovation on ports.
Int5Gent targets the integration of innovative data plane technology building blocks under a flexible 5G network resource, slice and application orchestration framework, providing a complete 5G-system platform for the validation of advance 5G services and IoT solutions. The project builds upon a suite of 5G core technologies solutions developed under the 5G-PPP, like flexible multi-RAT baseband signal processing, beam steering, mmWave technology solutions at 60GHz and 150GHz bands, hardware-based edge processor, GPU processing capabilities, innovative 5G terminals and elastic SDN-based photonic. The overall platform is implemented in two extended testbeds, which include actual field deployed segments, managed by the network operators of the consortium.
5GMETA will create an open platform for monetising vehicle data using 5G technologies. Progress beyond the state-of-the-art is predicted in several areas, for example, business models and security- or privacy-compliant data flows. It plans to organise technology transfer activities, tutorials and hackathons to incubators and clusters to capture attention of SMEs and high-tech start-ups.
FUDGE-5G will create a new generation of world leading 5G core network technology companies for private 5G networks based in Europe. It focusses on cloud-native 5G private networks by offering a disintegrated environment where components can be deployed anywhere as micro-services (edge, on premises and cloud). The softwarisation approach will enable the usage of off-the-shelf commodity hardware to deliver additional cost savings, faster deployments and greater adoption for private networks. The project plan real-world use cases, while incorporating the relevant stakeholders.
The 5G Action Plan for Europe (5GAP), adopted by the European Commission in September 2016, calls for actions to achieve uninterrupted 5G coverage in all urban areas and along all main transport paths across Europe by 2025. In particular, it is expected that the 5G infrastructure will be a key enabler for the development of connected and automated mobility (CAM), providing a broad range of digital services to the vehicle and paving the way to fully autonomous driving by the end of the decade on specific sections of roads equipped with 5G. It is also expected that 5G infrastructure will provide Gigabit connectivity to trains and support the digitalisation of rail operations and inland waterways.
The Commission has underlined in its strategy on the mobility of the future the specific contribution of 5G-enabled CAM in enhancing road safety, optimising road traffic and reducing CO2 emissions and traffic congestion, and thereby to a more sustainable infrastructure and climate action in Europe, in line with the Green Deal of December 2019. In its Communication of February 2020 on “Shaping Europe’s Digital Future”, the Commission underlines this objective for the deployment of 5G highway corridors and 5G rail corridors during the period 2021-2027.
To date, a total of 12 5G cross-border corridors have been agreed among neighbouring states and regions across Europe in view of hosting projects funded with the support of European and national funding resources in the fields of R&I (Horizon 2020) and deployment (Connecting Europe Facility).
Over the next EU long-term budget period of 2021-2027, the new CEF Programme is expected to enable the deployment of 5G corridors across Europe along the major pan-European transport paths (TEN-T corridors).