Sophia Antipolis, 10 February 2023

With more than 170 face-to-face attendees, coming from 30 countries, the three day ETSI conference on Maximizing the Impact of European 6G Research through Standardization came to a close on 8 February. The event provided a unique opportunity for the research community to come together with industry representatives and standardization experts to discuss future technology research and building stronger links to standardization.

At the beginning of 2023, the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) launched the first phase of beyond 5G / 6G research projects, with the objective of playing a crucial role in the definition of next generation networks. The ETSI Research Conference was an important platform for 25 of the 35 new SNS JU projects to present their objectives and plans and exchange with the standards experts on their standardization roadmaps. Several projects displayed posters during the networking sessions and attracted much interest. In addition, the event offered guidance to researchers on how to get involved in standardization, presented many success stories and examples of research being integrated into standards, as well as providing clear indications from the standards community as to where they would seek research input to help define the required standards for next generation networks.

Key takeaways during the conclusion panel included European Commission recommendations to SNS-JU projects from Bernard Barani deputy Head of Unit DG Connect Future Connectivity Systems, recommendations to researchers from Rui L. Aguiar the Steering Board Chair of the European technology platform, NetworldEurope, and last but not least, recommendations to standards groups given by Diego Lopez, a recognized expert in research, standardization and network operations.

Bernard Barani highlighted the 2 year window of opportunity leading up to the 3GPP Release 20 where work will very likely begin on 6G. In this period, it will be essential for projects to prepare the key technologies expected to make their way into 6G standardization, to engage with the widest possible stakeholder groups from the European Union and beyond, and to start nurturing promising technologies with standardization bodies. The Commission called for active cross coordination between the SNS JU projects and also between the projects and standards groups.

Rui L. Aguiar conveyed a strong message to his peers, encouraging researchers to work with standards bodies and exchange with standards experts as early as possible. He highlighted that it is important to set clear objectives in order to achieve the highest impact and then work with the right standards bodies according to their specific goals and characteristics.

Diego Lopez who has chaired several groups in ETSI and other SDOs, shared his experience and recommended that standards groups help researchers by welcoming feedback to the standards work in an agile way, in order to avoid the complexity of rules that can exist within standards bodies. He advised that standards groups provide researchers with up to date roadmaps on research result expectations in order to guide research input into standards. A close feedback loop between researchers and standards groups is essential.

The three days of presentations, panels and Q&As fostered a fully interactive exchange between speakers and participants strengthening the value of face-to-face networking. The community all agreed that the refreshment breaks, lunches and end of day cocktails were a perfect opportunity to mix and network in order to exchange with representatives of several SNS JU projects. These informal meetings were highly appreciated by attendees. SMEs, European Commission representatives, researchers from European and global organizations alike mixed together in panel discussions where many connections and plans for future collaboration were built.

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