The Hexa-X project has been awarded funding from the European Commission under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
The Hexa-X project is described as “a significant step toward bringing together key industry stakeholders in Europe to take the lead in progressing 6G”.
The Hexa-X project starts on 1 January 2021 and is scheduled to last 2.5 years.
Nokia is project lead, with Ericsson technical manager. The other members of the consortium include Aalto University, Atos, Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Intel, Orange, Politecno di Torino, Siemens, Technische Universitat Dresden, Technische Universitat Kaiserlautern, TIM, Telefonica, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, University of Oulu, Universita di Pisa and WINGS ICT Soluutions.
The stakeholders are intended to span the value-chain of future connectivity, ranging from network vendors, communication service providers, vertical industries, and technology providers, as well as Europe’s most prominent communications research institutes.
The Hexa-X project aims to connect the physical, digital and human worlds, anchored in future wireless technology and architectural research.
Nokia is leading the 6G joint research and pre-standardisation process and Nokia Bell Labs is already researching the fundamental technologies that will comprise 6G.
Commercial in 2030?
The company expects 6G systems to launch commercially by 2030, following the typical 10-year cycle between generations.
Peter Vetter, Head of Access and Devices Research, Nokia Bell Labs, said, “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.”
The Hexa-X consortium has identified six research challenges that need to be addressed to lay the technical foundation for 6G wireless systems:
• 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-optimised 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
Nokia is also involved in other European 6G research initiatives like 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 the digitisation of European industry.