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EU-Japan join forces for high-speed telecoms research

The European Commission and Japan have announced the launch of four research projects aimed at developing new technologies to deploy high-speed networks in highly-dense user areas.

The project will aim to deliver bandwidth greater than 1 gigabyte (GB) for every spectator in the Tokyo Olympic Stadium for the 2020 Olympics, the Commission said.

According to the Commission, joint investments in the research will amount to a total of €12 million and involve more than 40 partner institutions and firms from countries including France, Germany and the UK.

“Alongside the potential business opportunities for participating companies in both regions, previous successes of this type of EU-Japan collaboration include the joint support of the now global 3G standard for mobile phones,” the Commission said.

Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes, who has responsibility for the EU’s ‘Digital Agenda’ said: “It’s not enough to have a beautiful smart phone. It needs to work everywhere you want it to work. Investments in fast broadband research will repay taxpayers many times over.”

Kroes said Europe was leading efforts to make next-generation 5G wireless systems technology “a reality”.

The EU-Japan research will cover four specific programmes. The first, ‘Rapid’, “will use innovative radio network architectures to advance 5G technology”. The Commission said it will support smart phone internet downloads of more than 1 GB bandwidth to each user in an Olympic stadium and other crowded public areas by 2017. “This means users will be able to download a 1-hour high-definition (HD) movie in just 30 seconds.”

The second research programme, ‘iKaaS’, will develop “a smart and secure platform for smart cities based on big data resources collected from the internet of things (IoT) sensing environments such as mobile terminals, smart devices and smart homes”, the Commission said.

In the third research programme, ‘Safari’, the partners plan to “develop programmable optical hardware for novel multi-flow transport functions scalable to at least 400 GB per second channel”. The Commission said this means that one channel could carry 20,000 real-time HD blue-ray video streams simultaneously.

The fourth research programme, ‘Festival’, “will provide joint EU-Japan IoT experimentation platforms, where experimenters can validate their smart ICT service developments”, the Commission said.

The Commission said fast mobile internet is needed to match the “dramatic increases” in usage, coupled with the growth in smartphone and tablet usage. The Commission, which estimates the number of mobile broadband users will reach four billion by 2017, said: “At the same time people use these devices more and more for real-time video-streaming, which old networks can't cope with.”

“We are facing daily drops in our internet connections in many public areas of our cities, in public transport, stadiums, shopping centres, conference centres, and concert halls,” the Commission said. “Increasing the throughput of communications per user in such situations is difficult because of many restrictions relating to the conventional communication systems for densely located users.”

The Commission said it invested €50m in research projects in February 2013 to work on the architecture and functionality needs for 5G. In December 2013, the Commission launched a public-private partnership (PPP) on 5G.

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