UK looks ahead to 6G with launch of university innovation centre


The UK is pressing ahead with research into 6G mobile technology despite 5G still being in its infancy.

An innovation centre devoted to the next generation of connectivity is set to be launched at the University of Surrey.

Scientists behind the hub say it will be focused on advanced telecommunications engineering that brings together the physical world with advanced virtual ones, enabling “teleportation” of our senses.

“5G enables virtual reality or augmented reality, which is a 3D video, so what we are doing in 6G, we are making it four-dimensional, and the fourth dimension is the human senses and all the ambient information around a person,” Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli, director of the 6th Generation Innovation Centre, told the PA news agency.

“This is beyond 5G capabilities in the sense that it was designed for broadband, for low latency, for a lot of devices to be connected.

“If you want to teleport yourself to a virtual reality with your senses, to a virtual world and two people in a virtual world… suppose you are in London and I am in Guildford and we teleport to a virtual world, and in the virtual world we need to interact with each other, like shaking hands – that means we need high-quality time synchronisation, and that aspect of high-quality time synchronisation was never built as part of 5G technology.”

Making the digital divide a thing of the past is one of the key areas to be focused on, with hopes of significantly improving coverage indoors and around open areas.

The centre will also deliver research and development advances to help 5G reach its full potential.

“Since its inception in 2013, the 5G Innovation Centre has epitomised the University of Surrey’s ethos to collaborate with industry on societal and industry challenges, to enable innovations that change lives,” said Professor Max Lu, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey.

“Today, we affirm our mission on this journey to the digital future with 6GIC, our vision and research strategy for the next 10 years.

“Now is the time for the university, industry and the UK to begin the journey together towards 6G in collaboration with our international partners.”