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Calling All Future Makers of Technology – 6G Flagship Is a Chance to Shape the Technologies of Tomorrow

6G Flagship, the ground-breaking research programme currently underway in the University of Oulu, is offering researchers nothing less than a chance to make their mark in future connectivity. The challenges will be difficult, make no mistake. However, a running 5G test network, close ties with industry leaders, and a diverse and passionate team of experts will guarantee the best possible starting point from where to take them on.

6G Flagship is a research programme looking beyond the next generation of connectivity, 5G. The programme involves the University of Oulu, Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Joint Center for Future Connectivity, which is established by Nokia Bell Labs and the University of Oulu.

Given that we still don’t know everything that 5G will offer, since it is not yet here, the most common question people ask is, “What do you mean, 6G?”

“Absolutely, that’s the first thing people ask”, says Test Network Lead Olli Liinamaa from 6G Flagship. Liinamaa was just in Abu Dhabi for GlobeCom, a telecom industry event, where the University of Oulu was among the exhibitors–promoting 6G.

“The point we made in Abu Dhabi and have been making elsewhere is that we are not telling you what 6G is going to be. We need you to tell us. Bring your vision to us and tell us what you think the world will look like in 2030. 6G Flagship is a sandbox, a framework to let the imagination run wild, but a framework where you can take your hypotheticals and test them”, Liinamaa muses.

Indeed, a real, close to operator-grade Test Network is one of the things that make the Ecosystem special, says professor Nandana Rajatheva from the University of Oulu.

“The running test network is quite unique. This is not just theoretical work, as you can develop something and test it without finding your own resources or an industry partner on your own. There are very few places in the world to do this”, Rajatheva says.

Rajatheva points out that the test network will be constantly upgraded as time goes on. As 5G matures, so will the test network from pre-5G, to actual 5G and further to its subsequent iterations.

According to Rajatheva, another significant benefit that the 6G Flagship offers researchers is its multidisciplinary approach.

“Traditionally disciplines have been separate: computer scientists have been doing their thing over here while people in wireless connectivity have done theirs over there. Moving forward, we need to have an integrated environment, also in research. The case of autonomous cars, for instance, requires artificial intelligence, computer science, high bandwidth, connectivity and so on. It makes sense to get out of our separate silos to a more integrated framework”, Rajatheva says.

The fact that future applications require complex and diverse technological know-how means that the people getting into 6G research really have their work cut out for them. If you listen to professor Aarno Pärssinen from the University of Oulu, this is not for the faint of heart.

“We are dealing with the physical constraints of materials and trying to squeeze out everything we possibly can. The goal is to build the fastest radio transceivers in the world. This means attacking extremely complex and difficult issues, which requires passion, determination and talent”, Pärssinen says.

 

Jumping aboard the 6G Flagship means having access to cutting-edge technology–or using “state-of-the-art technologies from silicon CMOS SOI to SiGe”, in Pärssinen’s words–that takes on real-world issues with real-world solutions.

“A huge advantage for us is that we are actually producing microchips and combining theory with engineering. We will have measurable data based on actual physical properties”, Pärssinen says.

One thing to remember is that 6G Flagship is a two-way street between academia and industry. The companies who are participating get access to the researchers’ accumulated know-how and a chance to experiment. Having said that, industry players will have their eye on actual goals and results, which is beneficial also to academic study, says Olli Liinamaa.

“To the companies who are involved and who want to get involved, we say ‘Welcome’. We need companies in this community and we will have them in bigger numbers than before. The strong mandate that this area of research has received from the government in terms of resources sends a  clear message to the industry”, Liinamaa says.

As Finland is backing up its talk of being at the forefront of technological development by choosing 6G as one of its flagship programmes and allocating resources to its research through the Academy of Finland, the message is indeed very clear. It is deemed on a state level that this is an area of study that will provide the best return of investment. Companies and individual researchers should jump at this chance.

Several positions are open for Doctoral Students!

6G Flagship constantly seeks for talented researchers and innovators in different academic career phases from starting researchers with a M.Sc. degree to professors and technical experts.

Last updated: 21.12.2018