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Europe sets out 6G vision at Mobile World Congress Barcelona

Commissioner Breton has outlined Europe’s plans for technology and infrastructure investment to foster resilience, and pave the way to 6G, addressing the Mobile World Congress.

6G and 5G on building blocks

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At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona, Commissioner Breton addressed key representatives of the mobile industry in a video speech summarising Europe’s ambitious plans for technology and infrastructure investment to foster resilience and strengthen EU’s digital supply chain.

In his video address during the ministerial session on “Digital policies to speed the post-COVID recovery”, Commissioner Breton stressed that combining public and private resources with investment-friendly regulatory frameworks is key to allow Europe to build the required level of infrastructure and technology capacities for the data economy.

Following that, at the launch event of the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) “On the Road to 6G”, several of Europe’s thought leaders in digital set out the strategy and the tools to enable the sector community to develop technology capacities for 6G systems as a basis for future digital services towards 2030.

6G visions

Speakers from industry highlighted 6G technologies as the next step-change in performance from Gigabit to Terabit capacities as well as to reach sub-millisecond response times. This should enable new critical applications such as real-time automation or extended reality (“Internet of Senses”) sensing, collecting and providing the data for a digital twin of the physical world.

Such new applications and technologies will offer strategic opportunities for European actors to develop new markets and pave the ground for leading technology companies, e.g. in the area of microchips for 6G or next-generation cloud technology.

In addition, 6G will be designed to enhance drastically the energy efficiency of connectivity infrastructures to cope with major traffic growth. These technologies will form the basis for human-centric services and address Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as greening the economy and supporting digital inclusion.

European and national R&I programmes

To make this happen, ambitious 6G R&I programmes have started both at European level and in several Member States. In this context, the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) presented its two strategic pillars: 6G research and innovation and 5G deployment actions funded by European or national funding programmes. The already committed public-private budget of around €2 billion establishes the necessary financial planning certainty to proceed with an ambitious 6G R&I roadmap.

Speakers from the SNS States Representatives Group emphasised the complementary with national programmes in EU Member States, which are also very ambitious, amounting to several €100 million, partly funded out of Next-Generation EU recovery plans dedicated to 6G R&I. These programmes cover a wide scope of strategic objectives ranging from fundamental technologies, over testbeds and intellectual property rights and up to specialised digital skills and sustainability solutions.