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How Academic Institutions are Helping in 5G Innovation and Beyond?

Saurav Jha

While discussing field trials and deployment of 5G technologies, we often discuss the initiatives announced; the field trial projects launched; the partnerships formed by leading telecom operators. We often forget the contribution made by academic institutions and academicians towards 5G innovation, research, trial, and implementations.

The leading universities and academic institutions around the world have been contributing to 5G research since 2015. In addition to being involved in 5G research projects, many universities have already set up dedicated 5G research centers and innovation centers. Also, many academic institutions have been teaching industries on how to transform business processes and operations by leveraging 5G technology.

According to Fierce Wireless,

Back in 2015 and 2016 when 5G was still in its infancy, many top academic institutions around the globe developed initiatives devoted to 5G research.

The R&D conducted by leading academic institutions over the last five years help enterprise and individual consumers to leverage the ultra-fast speed and ultra-low latency delivered by the fifth-generation cellular networks. It is time to appreciate the immense contribution of academics towards 5G innovation and beyond.

Understanding Huge Contribution of Academics towards 5G Innovation and Beyond

Opening 5G Labs and Research Centers

Since 2014, the top academic institutions in developed countries have been promoting 5G research by setting up research and innovation centers. In 2014, the Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) opened a 5G lab in Germany. Likewise, the University of Surrey opened a 5G Innovation Center in September 2015.

At the same time, the University of Texas hosts the Wireless Networking and Communications Group in Austin. The universities and academic institutions across the globe have been opening research centers and innovation centers since 2015. The research centers and innovation centers contribute immensely towards commercial deployment on 5G networks in 2020.

Conducting Early 5G Research Projects

In addition to opening 5G labs, research centers, and innovation centers, the universities were involved in the early 5G research projects. The research conducted by academics contributed towards development and standardization of key aspects of 5G technology – millimeter wave (mmWave) signal propagation, distributed cloud architecture, and massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antenna arrays.

However, the universities are still involved with advanced 5G research projects. They have been contributing regularly towards reducing the time and resources required to implement 5G networks on a mass-scale. Also, their involvement in advanced research projects will help telecom operators to solve many complex aspects of 5G and addressing emerging challenges in 5G deployment.

Facilitating Development of Future Standards and Systems

Since 2015, universities and academic institutions are involved in the development of standards and systems for 5G. Some of these universities facilitated collaboration between competitive telecom companies by building end-to-end test beds. For instance, the University of Surrey launched a flagship project called the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) in 2015.

5GIC launched end-to-end test systems for 5G that can be accessed by researchers and competitive telecom operators without any restriction. The flagship project made it easier for competing companies and researchers to develop future 5G standards and systems by collaborating with each other. Also, the telecom companies can leverage the test bed to experiment with software and hardware components of the 5G network.

Solving Unresolved Aspects of 5G

In addition to virtualizing networks, telecom operators speed up 5G deployment using mmWave spectrum and massive MIMO antennas. But the telecom operators have to resolve many important aspects of 5G technology as they roll out the fifth-generation cellular networks commercially.

Many universities still conduct research to solve some of the important aspects of 5G that are still not clear. For instance, many academic institutions are still conducting research on millimeter waves. They conduct research on leveraging high-frequency spectrum bands like 70 GHz, 80 GHz, and 90 GHz.

Helping Enterprises to Leverage 5G

In addition to fostering 5G research and innovation, many academic institutions focus on helping enterprises from various industries to leverage the potential of 5G technology fully. These universities have been creating new 5G cases by launching both commercial projects and protecting intellectual property. They conduct seminars and conferences in various regions to make enterprises learn how to leverage 5G technology to transform business processes and develop 5G-enables products and services.

Exploring New Scenarios for 5G in Emerging Markets

In many developing countries, academic institutions lack adequate resources to conduct 5G research. The academic institutions from many developed countries collaborate with the universities and government agencies to promote 5G R&D.

In 2018, three leading academic institutions in the United Kingdom (UK) collaborated with the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) in India to facilitate exploration and early adoption of 5G. The collaboration aimed to set up use case labs in India.

The use case labs would facilitate 5G exploration and trial by exploring new scenarios for 5G, creating awareness about 5G, setting up test beds, conducting 5G field-trials, and developing India-specific 5G solutions. Such collaborations contributed hugely towards 5G research and trail in developing countries.

Exploring 6G Technologies

Many academic institutions still focus on solving key aspects of 5G technology. Firstly, they work closely with leading players in the telecom industries. Secondly, they make enterprises understand important aspects of 5G by conducting conferences and seminars. But there are some universities that have already started looking beyond 5G and exploring 6G.

For instance, University of Texas at Austin collaborates with Wireless Networking and Communications Group to launch a 6G-focused center. More universities and academic institutions will gradually conduct 6G research and facilitate 6G innovation.

Conclusion

Simnovus passionately believes in helping academic institutions to carry out advanced 5G research. Many leading universities and technical institutions already use the indigenous RAN simulation solution provided by Simnovus to advance 5G research by overcoming constraints related to funds and resources.

The RAN simulation solution provided by Simnovus is easy to customize and upgrade. It also reduces cost by converting COTS hardware into 5G network and devices. Simnovus further updates the RAN simulation solution frequently to make the academics and researchers use test beds which comply with the latest 3GPP specifications.

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