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The European Commission is putting money behind its determination to recapture mobile industry leadership for its own companies in the 5G era. A series of R&D initiatives have recently announced their roadmaps, addressing different aspects of future wireless platforms with the help of EC funds and regional expertise. While many are led by the local giants - Ericsson, Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent/Bell Labs - there are leading roles for external partners too, as seen in Samsung's leadership of the mmMagic consortium.
This is co-funded by the EC's 5G PPP program and is focused on developing technologies which can operate in high frequency bands, from 6 GHz right up to 100 GHz. The aim is to gain deeper understanding of what is realistic in using these promising but often untried areas of the spectrum, and to accelerate standardization of millimetre wave systems.
There are many differences of opinion among mobile players over how important millimeter wave bands will be in delivering additional spectrum capacity for 5G. While some bands, notably 60 GHz, are already in commercial use, the behavior of others has hardly been tested, and some CTOs believe the primary focus should be on squeezing more capacity out of the well understood frequencies below 6 GHz.
Samsung, however, has been a major proponent of moving up the spectrum and has already demonstrated experimental networks which deliver very high speeds in bands such as 30 GHz and 60 GHz. In mmMagic, it is joined by most of its main infrastructure rivals - Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and Nokia - as well as Intel, Orange, Telefonica and Qamcom; test vendors Keysight and Rohde & Schwarz; and academic partners (Fraunhofer HHI, CEA LETI and IMDEA Networks; universities in Aalto, Bristol, Chalmers and Dresden). mmMAGIC is led and coordinated by Samsung. Ericsson acts as technical manager while Intel, Fraunhofer HHI, Nokia, Huawei and Samsung will each lead one of the five technical work packages.
Chang Yeong Kim, head of digital multimedia and communications R&D at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement that new approaches to implementing mobile communications in bands above 6 GHz "are crucial to realize the envisaged 5G services with diverse and challenging requirements".
mmMagic aims to develop new concepts for mobile access in the 6 GHz to 100 GHz range, including new waveforms, frame structures and numerology; and new adaptive and cooperative beamforming and tracking techniques, to address the specific challenges of millimeter wave mobile propagation. The group envisages that the resulting access technology would feed into the overall 5G multi-RAT platform, which many expect to integrate a range of new and LTE air interfaces.
The two-year mmMagic initiative is one of 19 research projects co-funded by the 5G-PPP. Other recently announced examples include Fantastic-5G, Norma, and Metis II.