The work covers the long term transformation of networks into a distributed smart connectivity platform with high integration with (edge) computing and storage resources. Work should lead to solutions where processes and applications are dynamically supported depending on the information flows and application requirements. It should enable novel interaction between human and digital systems based on new terminal types embedded in the daily environment, e.g. in cars, doors, mirrors, appliances, and new interfaces recognising gestures, facial expressions, sound and haptics. Work should lead to smart connectivity infrastructure with adaptive topologies that supports a virtually infinite capacity and perceived zero latency, highly diverse device densities and highest reliability and availability[[The 5x9 availability level of 5G is being perceived as insufficient in some industrial environments, e.g. in factories for high accuracy robot control, telesurgery, or some high end applications of connected cars]]. It should lead to professional grade of security and privacy whilst bringing down OPEX, CAPEX, and energy consumption. Focus is notably on:
- Provision of seemingly infinite network capacity including innovative spectrum use and management, usability of new bands and radio technologies towards cell free networks including scalable cell-free Massive MIMO, usage integration and optimised management of optical resources, as well as architectures enabling hyper dense ambient networks.
- Support for imperceptible latencies through flexible connect-compute technologies and architectures enabling optimised distribution of the latency budgets as a function of the application requirements.
- Provision for smart connectivity of massive amounts of things and systems in a scalable, interoperable and cost-efficient way. Energy efficiency and paradigms where consumption moves from connectivity to computing (e.g. Mobile Edge Computing) will be considered.
- Support for novel architectures and protocols for adaptive networks, including peer-to-peer, meshed and relay-based, for new mobility paradigms, taking advantage when relevant of cognitive operations making use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning mechanisms, taking a full end-to-end value chain approach, including terminal and application management. Resilience against attacks on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning mechanisms are in scope.
- Provide personalised, multi-tenant and perpetual protection based on security, privacy and trust mechanisms required in highly virtualised and software environments, taking into account an end-to-end perspective including hardware security capabilities as well as software processes. Blockchain technologies may be explored in that context.
Proposals may focus on one or several of the above indicative sub-topics, and will bridge towards preparing evolution paths for R&I on smart networks and services in future programmes.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 5 and 12million would allow this area to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. In particular, initiatives with strong structuring effects across a large set of key industry stakeholders and programmatic impact for future European actions in the domain of Smart Network and Services may target the higher budget range.
The challenge is to go well beyond the 5G capabilities developed under 3G PPP release 16 that will become available early 2020. It also looks beyond 5G to prepare for the realisation of Smart Connectivity systems as a platform for a Next-Generation Internet, which should support a highly flexible connectivity infrastructure that can dynamically adapt to changing requirements of innovative applications whilst facilitating user data control and innovation friendly implementation of relevant legislation. This requires a full value-chain approach towards seamless and secure end-to-end interworking with computing resources (e.g. distributed data centres, edge computing) and with a range of innovative devices.
- Smart connectivity technologies for platforms integrating ubiquitous connectivity, storage, and computing resources opening for new service and business models.
- Smart connectivity platforms integrating technologies and architectures towards perceived zero latency.
- Network scalability towards a high number of resource-constrained (IoT) devices, multiplicity of service requirements, and new user-controlled connectivity paradigms.
- Characterisation and availability of secure and trusted environments for software based virtualised networks, including underlying hardware limitations and enabling trusted multi-tenancy.
- Innovative radio spectrum use, novel strategies for coverage/service extension, support of novel wireless technologies and use cases through platforms, usability of today unexplored spectrum.
- Heterogeneous networks with dynamic topologies for advanced mobility solutions.
- Dynamic scalability of network capabilities through availability of managed and enhanced optical resources.
- Characterisation of AI and blockchain technologies in the connectivity domain, notably for network/service management and security.
- Significant reduction of total cost of ownership through improved operational and capital expenditure efficiency, and energy consumption.