Telefónica hopes Spain's new 5G lab will be a tonic for the industry

Telefónica and networks institute IMDEA Networks have teamed up to create what they describe as "Spain's first laboratory of 5G excellence", saying that the key goals are to create an open ecosystem for "innovation and investigation" by bringing industry and the academic world together.

In a statement announcing the move, the companies said the new 5TONIC facility will be located at the central office of IMDEA Networks on the outskirts of Madrid and will open its doors in November 2015. It is expected to operate at least until the first 5G products are commercially viable, which is expected to happen in around 2020.

Ericsson is the first manufacturer to join the initiative as part of its 5G for Europe programme. The Sweden-based vendor is already involved in several 5G programmes at European level such as Horizon2020, 5G PPP and METIS II.

5TONIC will comprise two main areas. First a unit dealing with virtualisation software for 5G networks that will focus on NFV; software defined networking (SDN); security services, network control and management planes; cloud services and signalling services.

The second unit will look at the 5G wireless systems area, focusing on the air interface, radio aspects, duplexing, multiplexing, media access control, spectrum, interference and mobility tracking, all of which will be based on a multi-RAT (radio access technology) approach.

For Enrique Blanco, CTO of Telefónica Global, the 5TONIC centre represents a further demonstration of its commitment to 5G: the company is also a founding partner of the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey in the UK.

"The centre of 5G excellence in Madrid will allow us to test, choose, and prioritise the functionalities of the candidate networks and services that will be part of future 5G networks, in order for the resulting system to be consistent and coherent. We don't want the 5G networks start-up to be a specific single event, but rather a process which we want to begin right now," said Blanco.

The Spain-based operator noted that even though 5G networks are still in an initial phase of development, the consensus is that the next mobile generation will considerably improve latency, while the transportation of volumes of data will be 1,000 times greater than currently.

5G is also expected to allow for the increase of the number of devices simultaneously connected between 10 and 100 times, and increase the life span of batteries up to 10 times, among others

Arturo Azcorra, director of IMDEA Networks, also highlighted the desire of Spain to play a leading role in 5G technology research and development.

"Through 5TONIC and IMDEA Networks we wish to consolidate a singular scientific initiative that openly combines the efforts of public and private R+D efforts in the science of networks," he said.

For more:
- see the Telefónica release

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