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6G Hubs for Germany

News from Aug. 11, 2021

Beginning in August, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the establishment of four hubs for research into the future technology 6G with up to 250 million euros. Fraunhofer FOKUS will be involved in two of them over the next four years: the “6G Research and Innovation Cluster” (6G-RIC) and the Open6GHub. Drawing on its many years of 4G and 5G core network expertise, the team from the Software-based Networks business unit will design essential components for an organic, distributed 6G core network and integrate them into the emerging test environments.

Reliable and high-performance communication networks drive innovation in digital societies. To shape the digital future effectively and in line with our ideas, Germany and Europe need to be technologically sovereign. Therefore, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding four 6G-Hubs.

On the one hand, Fraunhofer FOKUS is participating in the Open6GHub, which will receive funding of around 67 million euros over the next four years. The Open6GHub designs a holistic 6G system that meets the requirements of users and society after 2030. The goal is to provide contributions to a global 6G harmonization process and standard in a European context that takes into account German interests in terms of societal priorities while strengthening the competitiveness of companies and technological sovereignty, as well as the position of Germany and Europe in the international competition for 6G. Initially, the 17 project partners involved are looking at application scenarios in the connected factory, rural areas, and agriculture. Open6GHub is coordinated by the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Kaiserslautern.

Fraunhofer FOKUS also participates in the research hub “6G Research and Innovation Cluster (6G-RIC)”, which is funded with 70 million euros by the BMBF and coordinated by the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) in Berlin. The 6G-RIC pursues the goal of developing mobile radio systems with open interfaces across all technological boundaries. In addition to the actual technology development, the focus is on setting up a high-performance test infrastructure. The test infrastructure is intended to enable the testing of new technology components under realistic and open conditions in order to accelerate direct exploitation and support the establishment of a new ecosystem in the medium term.

“The work of Fraunhofer FOKUS in the 6G hubs in Kaiserslautern and Berlin is complementary to each other: In the Open6GHub, we are researching and developing an organic 6G core network, taking into account, in particular, the highest requirements for reliability and flexibility. In doing so, we benefit from our decades of experience gained in the development of our OpenEPC and Open5GCore. For the 6G-RIC, we will practically test the management of a distributed RAN functionality as well as innovative network management and data layer functions,” summarizes Prof. Dr. Thomas Magedanz, head of the Software-based Networks business unit at Fraunhofer FOKUS.

A total of around 50 research partners from science and industry are involved in the four hubs. They are laying the foundation for the 6G research initiative in Germany, which the BMBF has now launched.