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Ericsson makes multi-million pound investment in UK 6G research programme

Leading comms tech provider unveils investment initiative set to boost UK research capabilities and drive global development of 6G future communications and standards

Comms tech and services provider Ericsson is to establish a research unit in the UK as part of a multi-million-pound investment to boost the country’s future wireless connectivity capabilities.

In all, Ericsson has made a commitment to invest tens of millions of pounds over the next 10 years, in a UK-based programme that will focus on 6G research and breakthrough innovations. The company anticipated that 6G will merge the digital and physical world, contribute to a more intelligent, sustainable and efficient society, and help to deliver new use cases that include multi-sensory extended reality, precision healthcare, smart agriculture, collaborative robot (cobot), and intelligent autonomous systems.

These are all considered by Ericsson to be key building blocks of the world’s future digital infrastructure for society, industries and consumers. “Ericsson has been connecting the UK for more than 120 years, and this new investment underlines our ongoing commitment to ensure the country remains a global leader in the technologies and industries of the future,” said Katherine Ainley, Ericsson UK & Ireland CEO.

“Our vision for a more connected, safer and sustainable world is one that is shared by the UK government, and we look forward to working together with network operators, industries and academia to develop international standards that will move us ever closer to achieving seamless global connectivity and truly groundbreaking innovation.”

The research programme will employ 20 dedicated researchers and support additional PhD students who will work alongside leading academics, CSPs and industry partners to lead 6G research projects that contribute to the development of global technology, network innovation and new product services. Research areas will include network resilience and security, artificial intelligence, cognitive networks, and energy efficiency.

“Ericsson is at the forefront of global research, innovation and developing open standards that will underpin a future of limitless connectivity and new technologies,” said Magnus Frodigh, vice-president and head of Ericsson Research.

“Establishing a research program in the UK means the country will be well positioned to utilise its existing high international level of knowledge in wireless systems and technologies to produce groundbreaking 6G research that not only can help shape the future of global standards but also deliver a more connected, efficient and sustainable society.”

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The announcement of research investment in the UK builds on Ericsson’s current work in the 5G sector of the country’s telecommunications industry, and supports the government’s ambition to be a leader in the development of future communications and global standards. As she announced the new facility, Ainley highlighted the work that Ericsson had been doing in 5G and revealed the company would also be accelerating its presence in the world of enterprise 5G in the UK.

“We announced our first on-demand network slicing child with Vodafone earlier [this] year, and that’s been fantastic to do service,” she said.

“I get very excited about enterprise: there are so many exciting use cases. [For example] at the Port of Tyne, which we’ve been doing with BT around a 5G private network. It is looking to optimise its container traffic using [the 5G private network] but it is also planning to test things like driverless vehicles and have a Clean Energy testbed. It’s a great example of the partnership we have.

“And then there is energy efficiency, a really hot topic at the moment,” said Ainley. “We have had a couple of announcements on this in this space around radios. Earlier in the year, we announced a new radio that we developed with Vodafone, where we saw energy usage reduce by up to 50%.

“We’ve also recently announced another that we developed with BT, which saw use of our massive MIMO radio, and saw the energy reduced by 40%. We’re working on how to break the energy curve with 5G. That is, how do you get the benefits of 5G by having better latency without just increasing the energy?”

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