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£12m research grant to make future telecommunications network greener, more resilient and ubiquitous

Ensuring the future of the UK's telecommunication network is secure, caters to all of society, boosts the economy and is highly energy efficient is the goal of a new £12m international project, which Queen’s researchers are working on.

The TUDOR (Towards Ubiquitous 3D Open Resilient Network) project, which is funded by the UK government, will research and develop technologies that could be used in a more open, flexible and scalable future mobile network beyond 5G and 6G.

The TUDOR team will also focus on how new technologies could be used to enhance telecommunications infrastructure as 5G matures as well as understanding how emerging intellectual property could contribute to global standards and skills generation in the UK. Crucially, TUDOR will help design and promote a more diverse telecoms market.

Professor Trung Duong from Queen’s University commented: "It is hugely exciting that Queen’s University Belfast is part of this world-leading team of UK academia and industry partners working on 6G networks. We will lead work on developing a modular Digital Twin platform that will allow integration testing of different O-RAN components and validates slice delivery guarantees for disaggregated and multi-vendor O-RAN configurations for 6G.”

Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Director of the 5G/6G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, said: "I would like to thank the government for launching this programme, and we are looking forward to working with our strong international TUDOR team to ensure the award-winning Surrey 5G Innovation Centre continues to add to the multiple contributions we've already made to telecommunications innovation and technologies.

"I am confident that this project will help ensure that the UK's critical telecommunications infrastructure keeps up with the blistering pace of innovation that is happening across the globe and that the societal benefits of faster and more reliable communications are delivered in the most sustainable way possible."

The TUDOR consortium includes leading national and international organisations:  AWS (Amazon Web Service), AWTG, BAE (BAE Systems), BT (British Telecom), Ericsson, ETSI, IDE (InterDigital Europe), Mavenir, Nokia, NPL (National Physical Laboratory) OW (OneWeb), SatApps (Satellite Application Catapult), Tactical Wireless, Toshiba, Viavi (Viavi Solutions), VMO2 (VirginMedia O2),  Imperial College London, KCL King's College London, Lancaster University,  Queen's University Belfast, Strathclyde University, University College London, University of Glasgow, AMD Fujitsu, MTC, NetRail, and Qualcomm.

Kirsty Bright, Director of Innovation Strategy and Transformation at Virgin Media O2, commented: "We are pleased to be part of the TUDOR consortium for the DCMS Future Open 3D Networks Research Challenge (FORNC). This exciting programme will support the design requirements of 6G via a self-evolved 3D network architecture, focusing on carrier-grade security, resilience, energy-efficiency and improved indoor coverage.

“We look forward to working with the rest of the consortium members to support industry and academia in developing future-facing open and interoperable solutions to diversify the UK's mobile network supply chain."

Maria Cuevas, Networks Research Director from BT, said: "We are very excited to participate in this Research collaboration, which involves great partners from different parts of the UK telecoms research and innovation ecosystem. We continue to proactively support the development of open solutions to telecoms networks and a gradual evolution forward from 5G technologies."

Magnus Frodigh, VP & Head of Ericsson Research, said: “Ericsson is looking forward to working in close partnership with the winners of the Future Open Networks Research Challenge in the UK. Through this government funded program and our own recently announced multi-million pound 6G research investment, the country is ready to begin the journey of developing future network technologies, architectures, and global standards as well as leading the way to an efficient and sustainable society powered by limitless connectivity for a cyber-physical continuum.”

TUDOR is part of the UK government's strategy to reduce the UK's resilience on a small number of suppliers to build and maintain telecoms networks.

Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said: "The technology powering our phone and internet networks is evolving rapidly, and with 6G on the horizon, we must stay ahead of the curve.

"This huge investment will see top universities join forces with industry to build, test and roll out the nuts and bolts underpinning new networks while ensuring our plan for a more diverse and innovative telecoms market is sustained in the future.

"The funding will also turbocharge our work to strengthen telecoms supply chains, so we are no longer reliant on a handful of companies to develop and maintain our 5G networks."


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