EU Boosts Investment In 5G Hardware Innovation and Trials of 5G-based Connected and Automated Mobility

By Chantal Polsonetti

Industry Trends

Eleven new Horizon 2020 projects under the European 5G Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP), will kick off in September 2020.  The objective will be to seize opportunities in 5G hardware innovation and to validate 5G ecosystems for connected and automated mobility (CAM) along three new European cross-border corridors.

The portfolio of ongoing projects will now be complemented with 11 new projects to be launched as of September 2020.  This will make the whole 5G-PPP trial project portfolio worth more than € 400 million of EU funding and will leverage far more than € 1 billion of private investment in 5G vertical trials.

The three new 5G cross-border projects will design, test and validate use cases in the field of mobility and transport.  They will broaden the validation of connected and automated mobility features to roads, train, ports and maritime routes.  Each project will provide a 5G network infrastructure that offers both multi-service and multi-application features to varied means of transport (such as cars, trucks, trains, pods, barges and boats), as well as improved connectivity to public users.

Each of them will operate under different geographic conditions and associated weather constraints: the Baltic and North Sea (5G-Routes and 5G-Blueprint) and the Pyrennees mountains (5GMED).  Two of the three projects will take place over sections of 5G cross-border corridors that are supported by a cross-border cooperation agreement, with Via Baltica between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (5G-Routes) and the recently signed memorandum of understanding between the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium) covering Rotterdam, Antwerp and the North Sea Port area.

The three projects will be complementary to the three 5G corridor trial projects launched in November 2018.  Their findings will provide the necessary know-how in view of the envisaged large-scale deployment of 5G corridors in Europe, which is expected to be supported by the upcoming Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Digital Program over the 2021-2027 period.

The projects bring together a broad variety of stakeholders: telecom operators and vendors, road operators, rail infrastructure managers, transport and logistic companies, vehicle manufacturers and their equipment suppliers, railway equipment manufacturers, innovative SMEs and public and private research centers, with the direct participation of transport authorities and the support of national and regional national governments.  Altogether they will contribute to the definition of innovative cooperation models that will drive investment in the large-scale deployment of 5G corridors across Europe.

Their combined budget amounts to €41 million, of which €31.1 million is EU funding under the Horizon 2020 program.

The eight new 5G hardware innovation projects will build a first-class European industrial supply chain for core 5G technologies and hardware devices, and notably for network technologies and systems, while creating market opportunities and supporting the emergence of new innovative market players.

The Coordination and Support Action (CSA) COREnect will define the core hardware components opportunities for Europe as well as the related R&I and investment requirements. It will deliver a European roadmap for hardware enabling technologies supporting European technological sovereignty objectives for connectivity platforms.

Seven innovation actions (IA) will build on key 5G technological blocks, primarily hardware-based, and will cover the integration and validation of components within an overall 5G architecture. The projects will address innovation in promising vertical use cases such as content management, coordinated auto mobility  platooning, Non Public Networks, Data ecosystems and ultra-high data rates (using the THz frequencies), while also investigating new business approaches in many areas, such as Open Radio Access Networks, disaggregated systems, edge networking, and neutral host concepts.

Another wave of projects for approximately € 100 million will be launched this year under the last Work Program of Horizon 2020.  The last two calls close in June 2020, featuring 5G software innovation and more forward-looking projects Beyond-5G.

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