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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

UK's first 6G research facility to open at the University of Sheffield

The UK will be building the first-ever 6G research facility in the country and will be based at the University of Sheffield. The facility is set to be launched by 2024 and is part of the UK’s plan to dominate the 6G sector globally.

“6G is the next generation of telecommunications technology and has fast become a strategically important area for research and development,” said Professor Timothy O'Farrell, professor of wireless communication at the University of Sheffield.

“If the UK is to maintain its place as a global leader in telecommunications then we need the specialist equipment that our academics and industrial partners can use to innovate and develop next-generation 6G technologies,” O’Farrell who will be the new director of the facility added.

The facility will facilitate research into various 6G radio systems such as candidate waveforms, transmitter and receiver circuits, antenna arrays as well as digital acquisition and signal processing.

It will also help further research into over-the-air (OTA) propagation measurements and multiple OTA transmissions simultaneously, a key component in developing cutting-edge solutions in the field.

“The national facility we are creating at the University of Sheffield will play a huge role in the UK's 6G capabilities,” O’Farrell said.

The University of Sheffield is already home to the millimetre wave (mmWave) measurement facility which helps further research into the existing 5G technology. And like the upcoming 6G facility, the mmWave facility welcomes both academics and industry researchers.

Sheffield has already made some notable leaps in 5G leaps including developing 3D-printed radio antennae to bring 5G and 6G connectivity to rural areas. The university is also working with the University of York and DCMS to understand how radio base stations communicate with each other to reduce reliance on single suppliers in the UK’s telecoms network.

6G technology is expected to be faster than 5G by up to 10x with the ability to reach download speeds of 100 Gbits/sec and transmit data with one microsecond of latency (0.001 milliseconds).

However, research into the technology is still in its infancy and as such, we can’t really outline its full potential. We haven’t even reached the full maturity of the current 5G technology and according to experts, it may be another 7 years before 6G is launched.


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