Network equipment manufacturer Ericsson plans to invest tens of millions of euros in UK-based 6G research. The organization expects 6G networks to be commercially available by 2030.

Ericsson supplies 5G equipment to the UK’s largest mobile network operators. The Swedish organization recently announced a 10-year investment plan for UK-based research into 6G. Ericsson plans to provide tens of millions of euros in funding to projects and researchers contributing to the next mobile network standard.

Katherine Ainley, CEO of Ericsson in the United Kingdom and Ireland, said that collaborations with British universities are central to the initiative. Ainley added that several British universities are exploring technologies expected to support the future network standard.

“We will establish a team of 20 experienced researchers here in the UK and we will also look to sponsor students as well”, the CEO said. “Our initial focus will be 6G networking and hardware security.”

Ericsson has seventeen existing research sites in twelve countries. The organization invested nearly 20 percent of its annual sales in research and development (R&D) in 2021. Ericsson was one of the first providers of 5G network equipment. The organization plans to meet the demand for 6G as early as possible.

The road to 6G

The development of a mobile network standard is complex. The actual standard consists of an outline of the requirements that systems must meet to facilitate connections. The final standard is typically drafted by an umbrella organization that oversees the development process.

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) oversaw the development of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G. The organization based the standards on the research of universities, companies and agencies worldwide. 3GPP is expected to play the same role for 6G.

The development process of 6G is in its infancy. Universities, agencies and companies like Ericsson are in the orientation phase. Parties are figuring out what they expect from 6G and will require to meet the expectation. Right now, no one knows exactly what the standard will look like.

3GPP’s role will grow over time. Once parties develop tangible 6G technologies, the organization ensures that the work is reviewed. The most promising technologies end up in the final standard.

Ericsson seeks influence

By investing in research, Ericsson hopes to develop technologies that end up being incorporated into the standard. The more the organization contributes to the development process of 6G, the more influence it has on the final standard. The latter is a competitive advantage.