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FEATURE FIBRE IN MOBILE NETWORKS


Te European Commission has earmarked


public funding of €700 million through its Horizon 2020 Programme to support the activity. Tey expect this will be matched by investments worth five times this amount– €3 billion – from the private side. Tis money will fund between 60 and 100 research and development projects, depending on their size, across three different phases. Although wireless technologies are the


starting point for the programme, it will necessarily exploit the strengths of both optical and wireless technologies. ‘Te message is that 5G is more than just a radio access technology,’ commented Tibaut Kleiner, head of unit, Network Technologies at the European Commission DG CONNECT. Te 5G architecture encompasses the entire


network infrastructure, from optical core to radio access network. To achieve the capacity and coverage requirements in the access portion of the network will require a converged wireless-optical-satellite infrastructure, integrating mobile fronthaul and backhaul into a common transport network. Transporting vast amounts of data across the network will require new advances in ultra-high capacity core networks. 5G will also incorporate concepts


from soſtware-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) to improve operators’ control of multi-tenant networks and enable rapid service provisioning. Energy consumption is also a critical aspect as the digital networks will soon represent


The message is that 5G is more than just a radio access technology


something like four per cent of the total energy consumption in developed economies. In September 2014 the 5G PPP held a


stakeholders’ consultation workshop on optical technologies, where participants ‘strongly agreed that research on optical networks would be essential to realise the objectives associated with the 5G PPP, especially those related to low latency’. At the same time the participants concurred that ‘these research challenges were relevant for optical networks anyway, more or less regardless of the 5G PPP’. As a result of these


meetings, optical was put back at the heart of the 5G PPP programme. On behalf of the Commission, Tibaut Kleiner


carried that message to the European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC), which took place in Valencia last September. In his plenary presentation, Kleiner explained to the audience that the Commission recognised the importance of optical networks to the success of the 5G PPP, and encouraged the optical community to become further involved. ‘In phase two, optics is expected to play a starring role,’ he declared. Phase one of the 5G PPP is already under way.


Te optical aspect of this work is taking place under the Horizon 2020 work programme ICT6–2014 Smart Optical and Wireless Network Technologies, with €29 million of available funding. Some 18 projects were selected; they started in July 2015, and will run for up to three years. Optical-themed research in this work


programme addresses challenges in four main areas: lthe lack of dynamic control and management of optical network resources within and across operator’s domains for lower cost and more flexible use of resources;


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