Shaping European strategy towards 6G


CTTC to drive R&D activities and shape European strategy towards the definition of 6G

The Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC) has come to play a major role in the definition of the future 6G communication systems to be deployed worldwide by 2030. This is evidenced, on the one hand, by the fact that CTTC is involved in 8 R&D projects (or nearly one out of four projects) awarded in the first call of the Smart Network and Services Joint Undertaking (JU-SNS) Workprogramme of Horizon Europe. Those projects have started in the beginning of 2023 and will bring a total financial support of 3.5 Meuro for the CTTC. The topics comprehend a broad set of 6G communication challenges including AI for secure open or ultra-low power network architectures, satellite and terrestrial radio access integration for distributed and ubiquitous services, non-terrestrial networks, flexible and scalable networks, or sustainability and energy efficiency. Specifically, the projects are:

  • 5G – Satellite TerrestriAl integrated Radio access towards Distributed and Ubiquituous Services for the society (5G-STARDUST)
  • 6G Non-terrestrial Networks (6G-NTN)
  • Automated zero-touch cross-layer provisioning framework for 5G and beyond vertical services (ACROSS)
  • Flexibly Scalable Energy Efficient Networking (FLEX-SCALE)
  • A holistic flagship towards the 6G network platform and system, to inspire digital transformation, for the world to act together in meeting needs in society and ecosystems with novel 6G services (HEXA-X-II)
  • SElf-mAnaged Sustainable high-capacity Optical Networks (SEASON)
  • Smart Networks and Services International and European Cooperation Ecosystem (ICE)
  • AI-powered eVolution towards opEn and secuRe edGe architEctures (VERGE)

Besides, the CTTC, in the person of its Director of EU Programmes and Industrial Contracts, Dr. Carles Antón-Haro, is an elected member of the Governing Board of the 6G Smart Networks and Services Industry Association (6G-IA). The 6G-IA is the voice of European Industry and Research for next generation networks and services. Its primary objective is to contribute to Europe’s leadership on 5G, 5G evolution and SNS/6G research. The 6G-IA represents the private side in both the 5G Public Private Partnership (5G-PPP) and the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU), whereas the European Commission represents the public side. All major industrial players from all over Europe are represented in the 6G-IA Governing Board: equipment vendors (Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Huawei, Thales), mobile network operators (Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telenor), high-tech and thriving SMEs (Nextworks, EURESCOM), as well as several industrial associations and other companies. CTTC is one of the two representatives of research centers and academia in this board since 2014.

This has allowed the Center to play a very influential role in the definition of the 2021/22 and 2023/24 6G Research and Innovation Workprogrammes. With an earmarked public funding of about 500 Meuro, these are the first steps in the strategic R&I roadmap towards 6G for Europe. This initiative builds on an EU contribution of 900 Meuro for the 2021-2027 period to be matched by the private sector with the same amount. The aim is to enable European players to build the R&I capacities for 6G systems and develop lead markets for 5G infrastructure as a basis for the digital and green transformation. Besides the Center also participates in the Policy Task Force of the 6G-IA. This task force is aimed to define the industrial priorities of the SNS ICT sector in Europe, promote the 6G European strategy and solutions at a global scale, and provide directions and priorities for the upcoming SNS workprogrammes. In this respect, Dr. Antón-Haro said “For CTTC, a research center of roughly 100 researchers, it is a honor to be at the forefront of the research and strategic activities leading to the definition of 6G. And do that in close collaboration with all major industrial players in Europe is simply a privilege”.

The CTTC also had a long record track of participation in Horizon 2020 projects and, specifically, those under the umbrella of the 5G Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP). Throughout Horizon 2020 (2014-2020), it ranked the second R&D center in Europe and the first in Spain in terms of funding and number of projects awarded.

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