5Qs on 5G: With Tekes’ 5thGear

5thGear Programme Manager, Mika Klemettinen

Tekes, a publicly funded expert organisation for financing research, development and innovation in Finland, has recently set up 5thGear, a new funding programme for 5G. For the latest instalment of ‘5Qs on 5G’, ‘Inside5G’ spoke to the Programme Manager, Mika Klemettinen to find out what to expect of ‘5thGear’.

What is the main purpose and focus of your involvement in 5G?

At the beginning of 2015, Tekes launched 5thGear as one of three digitalisation related programs. It will run for five years and has a budget of EUR100 million of which Tekes funds around EUR50 million. These new programmes follow-up Tekes’ previous long-term measures promoting the utilisation of digitalisation in the likes of the game industry and in the spheres of smart cities and learning solutions.

“We also want to entice international businesses to Finland and have them join forces with our top companies”

We have existing high-level ICT and digital business competence in Finland. With Tekes’ assistance, companies can move even further with this. We also want to entice international businesses to Finland and have them join forces with our top companies and researchers in product development efforts. Finland is about to become a hub for the digital revolution.

Finland has been one of the leading countries, if not even the leading country, in wireless communications during the past decades. We are building on this long-term competence and turn it to benefit the whole industry. This is done by “changing to the 5th gear on the digital highway with 5thGear”:

·         Gear 1: Low latency
·         Gear 2: Low energy
·         Gear 3: High speed
·         Gear 4: High capacity
·         Gear 5: Ultra reliability

The slogan of the 5thGear programme gives an idea of the focus that goes beyond the traditional telecommunications area: “Digitalisation connects – 5G enables”. The 5thGear programme aims to solve challenges related to next generation wireless data communications, the creation of new business, and rocketing Finland as the leading target for international investments.

“cyber security is a vital part of the programme, since through digitalisation and the enabling 5G technologies similar security requirements spread over all industries”

Intended for companies and research institutes, 5thGear will involve developing energy-efficient solutions that adapt to various needs. These will offer faster, safer and more reliable connections to consumers as well as enabling technologies to companies. Examples include millimetre wave technologies, software defined networks and the management of heterogeneous network solutions, but not forgetting about the business model aspects and cross-industry collaboration.

A key part of the work and collaboration is channeled through test networks that build a common core for the whole 5G innovation ecosystem. Additionally, cyber security is a vital part of the programme, since through digitalisation and the enabling 5G technologies similar security requirements spread over all industries.

What are your targets in terms of output and results?

The main mission of the 5thGear program is to boost Finland to be the innovation leader in digitalisation and to attract international investments by means of wireless communications excellence.

“a concrete target is establishing a leading pilot-driven telecommunications hot-spot in Finland “

First, the 5thGear programme aims for Finland to excel in 5G research that creates foundations for future business in the global digital market – extending the traditional telecommunications market.

Secondly, a concrete target is establishing a leading pilot-driven telecommunications hot-spot in Finland leveraging collaboration between Finnish and international players in the Finnish ecosystem.

Thirdly, 5thGear wants its 5G research and results to enable innovations beyond the telecommunications area – creating new business opportunities for Finnish companies.

The above visions are concretised through the following objectives:

·         Pilot and demonstration-driven world-class 5G research
·         Cross-industry collaboration, innovation and utilisation
·         Global competitiveness, new business opportunities and international investments

What are the main challenges faced in the development and standardisation of 5G?

As always, there are many individual technological challenges that are related to achieving faster connectivity. However, for 5G there are many additional and more complex challenges. In the basic connectivity area, speed is no longer the only target, but low latencies, ultra reliability, high capacity and energy efficiency are also needed in order to meet the needs and requirements of the Internet of Everything, where 5G is a key enabler.

Furthermore, managing heterogeneity in the networks becomes one of the key challenges. Finally, old business models are challenged and they need special consideration. An additional challenge is how the standardisation driven telecommunications and non-standardised IoT worlds meet – how do we, with 5G, efficiently enable the heterogeneous solutions of IoT?

Is this just about Finland or are you collaborating globally?

5thGear program is a national funding program, so the main focus is in Finland. However, the program is collaborating or intending to collaborate with USA, China, Sweden and Germany, and in addition through EU’s Horizon 2020, 5GPPP and many others.

“many new companies have landed in Finland due to the Finnish 5G excellence”

The development is a joint collaboration effort between companies and research organisations. International companies such as Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei and Samsung have been active, but also numerous others – recently many new companies have landed in Finland due to the Finnish 5G excellence.

Finnish research organisations such as VTT, Aalto, Technical University of Tampere as well as Universities of Oulu and Helsinki are in the forefront of global 5G research. Additionally, a number of Finnish measurement and testing device companies are participating in the collaborative research in Finland.

“all the R&D in 5thGear is done in a truly global context”

Since the 5thGear program is actively seeking for cross-industry collaboration, companies from different applying industries such as the IoT and health are targeted – not forgetting about the completely new business and companies that the programme intends to boost.

Taking into account the above and the fact that 5G will be developed as a joint effort with many international standardisation bodies, companies and research organisations, all the R&D in 5thGear is done in a truly global context.

Have you identified any 5G technologies that look of particular interest?

One example that has been highlighted is the millimetre wave technologies where both Finnish companies and research organisations have received global recognition. As green technologies are of specific interest for Finland, energy efficient solutions will also play a key role in the research.

Despite certain spearhead technologies or areas of interest, the entire 5G technology palette is covered in order to achieve fast, low latency, reliable, high capacity and energy efficient solutions.

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