Ericsson will invest millions of pounds in 6G mobile research in the UK and collaborate with universities on hardware security, intelligence and cognitive networking, and quantum computing, the network equipment maker said on Tuesday. The Swedish company, which supplies 5G equipment to all four of the UK’s mobile networks, said the 10-year plan would help the development of next-generation 6G networks, which are expected to be commercially available around 2030.

Katherine Ainley, chief executive of Ericsson UK and Ireland, said UK universities were conducting -class research on some of the technologies underpinning next-generation networks.

“We will build a team of 20 experienced researchers in the UK and we will also seek to sponsor students,” she said. “Our initial focus will be on 6G network and hardware security.”

The new team will complement Ericsson’s 17 existing research sites in 12 countries, she said.

Possible partner universities include Surrey, Bristol and Manchester, she said, adding that it typically takes eight to 10 years from engaging a researcher to developing a commercial technology.

Britain’s government, which has been working to protect scientific research funding after Brexit, called Ericsson’s investment a “huge vote of confidence” in the country’s telecoms sector, adding that Britain would soon publish a strategy for 6G technology.

Earlier this year, Ericsson said it expected global 5G mobile subscriptions to exceed 1 billion by 2022, driven by higher adoption rates in China and North America. In its biannual liquidity report, the firm said a weakening global economy and uncertainty caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had cut its 2022 estimate by about 100 million.

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The report’s executive editor, Peter Jonsson, said in an interview at the time that telecom operators’ push to bring down 5G and handset prices to $120 (roughly Rs 10,000) would help 5G adoption. “Compared to North America, China will add about 270 million users in 2021, and North America will add 65 million.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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