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Viavi announces 6G academic and industry research programme

Network test, monitoring and assurance systems provider announces support for 6G academic and industry research, aiming to provide expertise, technology and funding to promising avenues of research, which may lead to breakthroughs for wireless technology

Even as 5G networks hit a growth phase and operators worldwide look to capitalise on recently purchased spectrum for 5G services, the industry is turning its attention to the future, with Viavi Solutions announcing that it is supporting 6G academic and industry research worldwide.

The support will be delivered by the network test, monitoring and assurance systems provider through its new 6G Forward programme, which is designed to provide vital expertise, technology and funding to promising avenues of research, which may lead to breakthroughs for the next generation of wireless technology. Viavi has already supported three universities – Northeastern University and the University of Texas at Austin in the US, and the University of Surrey in the UK.

Explaining the rationale for striking partnerships within academia, Ian Wong, CTO office, Viavi said such institutions play a vital role in exploring the potential of 6G.

“We believe it is important to get involved now and to allow disruptive and productive areas of research to see their ideas come to fruition ahead of formal standards definitions,” he said. “We have had fascinating and beneficial exchanges with our academic partners, and we hope to expand the scale of the programme in the future.”

At Northeastern University, Viavi is supporting the Institute for Wireless Internet of Things and the Open6G cooperative research centre led by Tommaso Melodia. The group is exploring large-scale RF propagation channel modelling based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to develop a city-scale digital twin of a 6G network.

The team is also developing a RAN intelligent controller-enabled Massive MIMO beamforming optimisation testbed using the Colosseum 256-port RF channel emulator and the Viavi E500 UE emulator.

“At the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things, we envision a future in which people and their environment are connected by a continuum of AI-powered devices and networks,” said Melodia. “6G research initiatives require collaboration between academia and industry, and the technology, expertise and funding provided by Viavi are critical to our contributions to making wireless communications exponentially faster, smarter, more energy-efficient and more secure.”

At the University of Texas at Austin, led by Jeff Andrews within the Wireless Networking and Communications Group, Viavi is a part of  6G@UT. The key topic of the joint research is applying end-to-end machine learning, specifically deep reinforcement learning, using adversarial conditions to re-train more robust cellular traffic forecasters.

“6G@UT is imagining the future of wireless connectivity at the intersection of immersive sensing and machine learning,” said Andrews. “Viavi’s unique perspective on enabling the entire network lifecycle from R&D to deployment provides academic researchers like us insights into problems affecting real-world network deployments, and we welcome the collaboration with the Viavi experts as we embark on this journey towards 6G.”

Across the Atlantic, Viavi is a founding member of the 5G/6G Innovation Centre led by Rahim Tafazolli at the University of Surrey. The Innovation Centre addresses advanced communication systems and the key challenges in the development of a 5G, 5G+ and 6G infrastructure for providing connectivity for future technologies.

Key research areas include: antennas and signal processing; artificial intelligence for wireless communications; intelligent and high-performance networking and service delivery; intelligent RAN technology and management; mobile network security; new physical layer; satellite communications; THz components and communications, all under future integrated communication and sensing.

“Viavi is a founder member of the Innovation Centre at Surrey and we deeply appreciate the support and expertise they are bringing to the table,” said Tafazolli. “It enables us to fully explore concepts, to deliver technologies and methodologies that will help define and improve connected communities in the future. This is a good example of academia and business working together to improve technology and people’s lives.”

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