The University of Strathclyde is involved in two projects awarded a total £24M from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to develop a more diverse telecommunications market.
The Realising Enabling Architectures and Solutions for Open Networks (REASON) project led by the University of Bristol, was awarded almost £12M to develop and industrialise technologies and solutions for future 6G mobile networks.
It brings together an ecosystem representing the entire telecommunication research and development supply chain, including three major mobile network equipment vendors, Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia.
Strathclyde is also involved in another £12M international project in the same funding call aiming to ensure the future security of the UK's telecommunication network and ensure that it is highly energy efficient, boosts the economy and caters to all of society.
Led by the 5/6G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, the TUDOR (Towards Ubiquitous 3D Open Resilient Network) project will research and develop technologies that could be used in a more open, flexible and scalable future mobile network beyond 5G and 6G.
The funding is part of a £28M pot shared across three UK Universities as part of a Future Open Networks Research Challenge, with the investment dedicated to bolstering the UK's status as a global leader in telecoms research and development.
The grants are part of the government’s strategy to reduce the UK’s reliance on a small number of suppliers to build and maintain telecoms networks, and the funding will support the roll out of lightning-fast mobile connectivity by making it easier for more firms to enter the market.
REASON will develop a roadmap for open 6G networks, which will set the framework for new developments across the entire technology stack.
The LiFi Research and Development Centre (LRDC) at Strathclyde leads the REASON work package ‘Enabling Technologies for Multi-Access Networks.’
Professor Harald Haas, Director of the LRDC, said: "We are absolutely thrilled to be able to lead a crucial work package in REASON which aims at the seamless integration of different radio and optical wireless access technologies by means of advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.
“We are particularly proud that the LRDC will be able to bring in LiFi as a UK-born wireless access technology which holds great promise for delivering secure wireless network capacities of one terabit per second and higher."
Project Lead Professor Dimitra Simeonidou of Bristol University’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering said: “The project will pursue breakthroughs on elevating bottlenecks of current systems, such as interoperability, agility, sustainability, resilience, security, and will position UK-born technologies as candidates for delivering future solutions.”
“REASON will address key technological challenges of delivering End-to-End Open Network solutions, considering all segments of the network,”
The consortium also includes the University of Bristol, King’s College London, Queens University Belfast, University of Southampton, Compound Semiconductor Centre-CSC, Digital Catapult, British Telecom-BT, British Broadcasting Corporation-BBC, Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Parallel Wireless Limited, Thales UK, Weaver Labs Limited, and Real Wireless Limited.
The TUDOR team will focus on how new technologies could be used to enhance telecommunications infrastructure as 5G matures, as well as understand how emerging intellectual property could contribute to global standards and skills generation in the UK.
The research team will also help design and promote a more diverse telecoms market and Principal Investigator at the University of Strathclyde, Professor Bob Stewart, who is Director of the Strathclyde Software Defined Radio team, StrathSDR, said: “We are delighted to be part of the TUDOR project. Our work at Strathclyde will focus on spectrum sensing and monitoring using Radio Frequency (RF) sampling hardware and software defined radio designs to support spectrum sharing and harnessing artificial intelligence for spectrum usage.
“We are excited to be working with project members including AMD, Qualcomm and the Spectrum Policy Forum.”
The project partners and members also includes BAE Systems, British Telecom, Ericsson, the National Physical Laboratory, Viavi, Imperial College London, King's College London, University of Glasgow, Queen's University Belfast, AMD, Qualcomm, and the TechUK Spectrum Policy Forum.
Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Director of the 5G/6G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, said: "I am confident that this project will help ensure that the UK's critical telecommunications infrastructure keeps up with the blistering pace of innovation that is happening across the globe and that the societal benefits of faster and more reliable communications are delivered in the most sustainable way possible."
Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said: "The technology powering our phone and internet networks is evolving rapidly, and with 6G on the horizon, we must stay ahead of the curve.
"This huge investment will see top universities join forces with industry to build, test and roll out the nuts and bolts underpinning new networks while ensuring our plan for a more diverse and innovative telecoms market is sustained in the future.
"The funding will also turbocharge our work to strengthen telecoms supply chains, so we are no longer reliant on a handful of companies to develop and maintain our 5G networks."