Open6GHub and 6G-RIC
Since August 2021, 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 is actively contributing to two of them over the next four years: the "6G Research and Innovation Cluster" (6G-RIC) and the Open6GHub. A major target of these projects is to develop a new “Organic 6G Core”, enabling from 2026 onwards the early prototyping of emerging 3GPP 6G standards.
At Open6GHub, an organic 6G core network is being researched and developed, taking the highest requirements for reliability and flexibility into account. The team of the Software-based Networks business unit benefits from many years of 4G and 5G core network expertise to design the essential components for an organic, distributed 6G core network and integrate them into the emerging test environments. The goal of the Open6GHub is to provide contributions to a global 6G harmonization process and standard in a European context.
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 6G-TakeOff project is working on an uniform 3D communications network, in which flying network nodes provide functionalities together with terrestrial network components dynamically and according to demand. 6G-TakeOff will cooperate with European institutions and research projects to help shape future 6G standards.
Fraunhofer FOKUS is advancing its Open5GCore and developing base technologies and prototypes of a new Organic Open6GCore within the Open6GHub project, and will commence testing its capabilities together with industry partners in various use cases during the 6G-TakeOff project.
FOKUS is part of a consortium of 22 partners under the lead of the Deutsche Telekom. The project “Holistic 3D Communication Networks for 6G (6G-TakeOff)” is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
CampusOS: ecosystem for open 5G campus networks
Fraunhofer FOKUS is coordinating the project CampusOS together with Fraunhofer HHI, while funding is provided by the German Ministry for Economical Affairs and Climate Protection with 18 million euros. CampusOS started in January 2022 for a duration of three years and 4 academic and 18 industry partners, covering equipment and software providers, integrators and application providers.
The goal of CampusOS is to build a modular ecosystem for open 5G campus networks based on open radio technologies and interoperable network components. This is intended to enable vendor independence and more competition as well as innovation in order to strengthen the digital sovereignty of companies in Germany.
Current Open RAN discussions can be regarded as drivers towards open, multi-vendor campus networks. This should be enabled by the development of suitable reference architectures, functional component catalogues, end to end deployment and operation blueprints, as well as open reference test sites, where the FOKUS 5G playground is representing one of these test sites. A major target of this project is to extend the Open5GCore to “OpenRAN-Readiness”.
Fraunhofer Institutes FOKUS and HHI are setting up reference test fields at their sites in Berlin. The goal of these test fields is to test individual elements and various combinations of the technology kit for performance and interoperability before testing them in application-specific industrial scenarios.
Funded by Horizon Europe, 6G-SANDBOX aims to develop EU-wide experimentation platforms to test promising technical 6G enablers, including zero-touch management, flexible multi-tenancy architecture, network intelligence, security, digital twins, artificial intelligence (AI), and reconfigurable intelligent surfaces.
The 6G testbed will combine digital and physical nodes to deliver fully configurable, manageable, and controllable end-to-end networks for validating new technologies and research advancements for 6G. The project offers organizations opportunities to conduct trials at four experimental platforms located in Malaga/Spain, Berlin/Germany, Oulu/Finland, and Athens/Greece.
One of the four 6G-SANDBOX experimental platforms will be established at Fraunhofer FOKUS in Berlin. Here FOKUS is working on a virtualized 6G-ready test platform that can be built with the push of a button according to the requirements of each use case. For this purpose, the Open5GCore will be further developed towards 6G.
Keysight Technologies Inc. coordinates the project. Apart from Fraunhofer FOKUS, the 6G-SANDBOX project partners include: COSMOTE; Eurescom; FOGUS Innovations & Services P.C.; INFOLYSIS P.C.; Institute of Software Engineering and Technologies (ITIS) at the University of Malaga; Keysight Technologies Inc.; Lenovo; National Centre for Scientific Research (NCSR) Demokritos; Nokia eXtended Reality Lab; OpenNebula; OWO; Queen's University Belfast; Telefonica, and University of Oulu.
The 6G SENTINEL (Six-G Enablers: Flexible Networks, THz Technology and Integration, Non-Terrestrial Networks, SidElink and Localization) is the Fraunhofer 6G lighthouse project bringing together the expertise of different Institutes to provide innovation in key 6G technologies for for terahertz frequencies and flexible networks with adaptable infrastructure – in particular, flying platforms and satellites. Furthermore, the project will develop solutions for localization in 6G networks, as well as self-configurable, dynamic and distributed multi-core networks, and merge these things into an integrated 6G network architecture.
The participating institutes bring to the project complementary expertise from the fields of radio access networks, localization, software-based core networks, semiconductor technologies for THz communication and electronics packaging. This creates a unique conjunction of application know-how, technology expertise for individual aspects of a 6G network and overall systems expertise.