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5G and beyond

The fifth generation mobile networks, 5G, is the latest version of the standards for mobile data communication networks that is currently being rolled out. Compared to previous generations, 5G is expected to provide more capacity, support better quality and lower latency. 5G will be an efficient way to meet the demand for increased mobile bandwidth as well as enabling new applications such as mission critical control, and infinitely many connected devices.

5G is extremely important for Sweden. Mobile systems and services linked to mobile systems are an important part of Swedish business, one of Sweden's most important export products. The development of 5G is dominated by Ericsson, one of Sweden's largest companies in terms of exports, value added and the number of employees. Ericsson and the development of 5G is part of the cluster of companies and research within ICT located in Kista and in the Stockholm region. The cluster includes more than 100.000 employees in more than 40.000 businesses. Competence build-up and the networking that takes place in the ict-cluster, where mobile networks are at the core, leads on to new innovations and business opportunities (Skype, Spotify, King, Klarna and Mojang).

In the future, we can also see that the network connection enabled by 5G has the ability to fundamentally change the working methods and business models for other industries, e.g. for the automotive industry with connected self-driving vehicles, for automation in the manufacturing industry, for the data collection that is the basis for streamlining all sectors. New business opportunities, new companies will emerge in the interaction between the 5G and applications in other industries. Being well positioned in research and development of 5G is a platform for the ICT cluster, for Sweden, to exploit new opportunities in the ongoing digital reformation of society and business.

ICT TNG strongly contributes to the development of 5G. The contribution begins with the basic research within ICT TNG. There is research important for the development of 5G within all ICT TNG's research areas. Based on research knowledge that has been built up, new activities focused on applying the research towards 5G and to transfer results to the design of 5G systems, are initiated. The activities can be in the form of applied research projects together with the industry, about building demonstrations or prototypes, about standardization or about people moving from ICT to industry. In the end, results from ICT TNG research have now been integrated into 5G systems, contributing to higher bandwidth, low-latency, more efficient management, improved flexibility and scalability.

Research area background

ICT TNG performs research in areas that are fundamental to several components of the 5G systems. Specifically, in ICT infrastructure, ICT TNG has conducted research within wireless communications that can enable increased the overall bandwidth of the systems through the introduction of new frequency bands or by increasing the number of parallel antennas. Within cyber-physical systems there is research that leads to very reliable, low-latency and secure wireless communication systems and research on how this can enable IoT sensing applications. In data analytics, research is carried out within secure, scalable algorithms, and how these can be used to improve the control of wireless networks through decentralized machine learning. Finally, within Data Intensive Computing research is conducted on how store, process and analyze data in data centers or multiple data centers in a scalable and reliable manner. This has many applications and is perhaps an impact case on its own merits, but it is certainly also extremely important for the operation of mobile systems, 5G and beyond.

Research results have been continuously transferred to the industry and have been built into the development of 5G systems. ICT TNG supplies the ICT cluster in the Stockholm area with education of highly skilled people. The partners in ICT TNG - KTH, SU and RISE - completely dominate the research within the ICT cluster in Kista Stockholm, and ICT TNG serves as a channel for contact between research and stakeholders in business and society. Technology transfer takes place in many ways, through researchers who are employed by the industry, within the framework of joint projects - publicly funded research projects as well as business-financed development projects.

Underpinning research

The Linnaeus Centre ACCESS, funded by VR, has been one important framework for research on 5G and beyond networks. The total budget of the center is 100 MSEK. From the European Commission the environment has received funding to the area e.g. in H2020 projects such as e.g. METIS, UNIFY and HIATUS. Important research contributions have been made on the development of coordination algorithms that enable near-optimal balancing of the transmitted power at a multi-antenna system and created interference at neighbouring systems [1-2]. Reference [3] represents work on the precoding techniques for multi-antenna systems, a collaboration between ICT TNG and Ericsson. Ultra-reliable low-latency communication systems has been another important area represented by refs [4]-[7].

Within security for 5G, research is conducted within the framework of a number of major projects and initiatives targeting cyber security. The total budget for ICT TNG's part of these projects is several hundred million SEK. In 2015, the research center CERCES - the Center for Resilient Critical Infrastructures was formed. This activity is a collaboration of ICT TNG faculty together with public authorities, in this case MSB, the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency. It spans a funding period of 5 years with a funding of 25 MSEK. The EU funds a number of projects via H2020, for example, COLA, CONCORDIA and 5G-ENSURE. ICT TNG faculty was very successful in SSF's cyber security program 2018, where ICT TNG faculty at KTH won three out of ten projects corresponding to SEK 100 million, and additionally, ICT TNG participates in three more projects via RISE. SSF has also funded several grants such as e.g. Secure and trustworthy 5G -networks. The research results include protocols, algorithms, and implementations. Reference [9] address to problem of protecting user’s privacy in 5G networks. Reference [10] present the design of efficient encryption algorithms. Finally, ICT TNG faculty was recently granted the VINNOVA competence center TECoSA - Trustworthy Edge Computing Systems and Applications. TECoSA is a ten years effort with the participation of nine academic PIs, most of them ICT TNG faculty and 13 industrial partners with a total budget of 240 MSEK of which 1/3 is granted by Vinnova to KTH.

A major research result is Hopsworks (, an end-to-end Big Data analytics and AI platform with unique support for project-based multi-tenancy. Hopsworks is the first major European platform for AI. Hops has been running as a managed service on RISE SICS ICE since 2016 and currently has over 900 users. RISE SICS ICE is a national large-scale datacenter for research and innovations. Other Hops installations are deployed and running e.g. at Ericsson. Hopsworks has many innovations including: (1) its storage layer HopsFS, which is the world’s most scalable distributed hierarchical file system. HopsFS won the IEEE 2017 SCALE prize[i] for its scalability; (2) Hops Feature Store which allows the storage and experimentation of curated ML features over time maintaining lineage and allowing sharing of features across various AI projects; and (3) distributed training of large ML models.

Details of the impact

Transfer of people and knowledge to telecommunication industry:

  • Education of highly skilled people
    • >50 graduated PhD’s to Ericsson and others telecom companies
    • >100 PhD’s in the area
  • Building knowledge for the industry and society
    • 50 EU, VINNOVA, SSF, VR collaborative projects in the area
    • >400 MSEK in total
    • Contribution to many patents, products, and standards
  • 7 recruited faculty in the area
  • 5G testbed on KTH campus & Urban ICT Arena
  • Activities and events to develop innovative ideas

Automated operations of 5G transport networks

The ICT TNG has developed data plane, control plane and management solutions for 5G infrastructure and applications utilizing 5G. The activities have had a clear objective to shorten the distance between academic research and product development, and transfer of research results to business. For this purpose, ICT TNG partners RISE and KTH participated in a 44 MSEK Vinnova funded project (​Kista 5G transport lab​) lead by Ericsson. There have been eight identified transfers of concepts and four product decisions based on the results.

ICT TNG activities in this area ramped up in late 2013 right at the time when the first 5G use cases were discussed. At that time focus was mainly on how to provide the required level of network flexibility and programmability that the newly defined 5G use cases would require. The work then evolved by following up on the latest technological evolutions, addressing 5G aspects within multi-technology orchestration, slicing, reliability, distributed cloud/edge computing, and finally machine learning for automated network and service operations. These topics are all highly relevant for 5G today (2019).

Security for 5G

The Security lab at RISE was started in response to industrial needs. The Security lab transfers know-how from academic research to industrial use and further to commercialization by RISE researchers combining participation in research projects with assignments directly for industry. Important research projects have been 5G-Ensure (H2020), one of the first projects considering security in 5G, with a lot of contributions to standardisation of 5G technology, and Concordia (H2020), a competence network with the aim to create the EU excellence center for cybersecurity. When working directly for the industry in the area, Ericsson has been the main customer. An important activity in this context is to build and standardise an IoT protocol - “OSCORE” - as an integrated part of 5G networks serving IoT, and several IETF standards are currently being worked on. TNG supported the startup of the Security lab as part of the focus on renewal. The Security lab now includes about 15 researchers with turnover of more than 20 MSEK.

Patents are another important way to achieve impact within the area of Security of 5G. ICT TNG researchers have contributed to more than 15 inventions that have been patented by industry. In order to reach a wider community than current customers and partners, RISE organizes an annual seminar, Security day, since 2011. The seminar has been met with great interest with more than 200 attendees from both academia and business. Since 2018 the event has been co-organized by Ericsson.

Energy-efficient wireless networking

Regarding multi-antenna systems, the research has lead to tight collaborations with Ericsson, carried out in several larger national and international research projects, for instance “WINNER II”, “METIS”, and “HIATUS” all funded through the European Commission and the VINNOVA projects “Multi-antenna Transmission and Scheduling in IMT Advanced” and ”SERAN”. Within millimeter-wave communication systems, research contributed to Ericsson’s understanding of millimeter-wave networking including pilot design, beamforming algorithms, optimal pilot-data resource allocation, multi-antenna receiver design, medium access control design and more. The results have been presented in relevant EU projects like mmMagic and 5GCAR, and were instrumental in several study items of 3GPP Rel15/16 NR. Finally, Ericsson has also been closely collaborating with ICT TNG researchers in the domain of ultra-reliable low-latency communication systems.

All these collaborative efforts contributed in various degrees to Ericsson’s effort to standardize, develop, prototype and commercialize its product portfolio in the domain of 5G network equipment. Furthermore, with respect to URLLC systems researchers have also been collaborating with ABB towards devising novel wireless systems for the automation of energy systems, where ABB is currently striving towards an entirely new design named WirelessHP. Based on fundamental research of ICT TNG researchers as well as collaborations and follow-up projects with ABB, research from ICT TNG has been instrumental for ABB on the way towards developing and commercializing such systems, demonstrated for instance through a series of joint patent applications. Finally, further research in this domain has lead to the formation of a start-up named R3 Communications, which strives towards commercializing wireless communications in the industrial automation sector.

Demonstrated applications

Pilot for industrial mobile communication in mining: A Vinnova funded cooperation with strong industrial participation: ABB, Atlas Copco, Boliden, Ericsson, Telia, Volvo CE among others. The pilot established a state of the art mobile network in a Boliden mine and tested a number of applications that are enabled by mobile communication on base level for communication, operation and safety, as well as on advanced level for automation and remote control. The pilot creates an impact by 1) reporting matching use cases’ requirements to the 5G technology evolution and 2) participating industries taking the global lead in the industry digitalization.

Demonstration on automated freight transport: Today, road freight transportation is mainly carried out by individual long-haulage trucks with no real-time coordina- tion or global optimization. ICT TNG faculty has studied how modern information and communication technologies could support a cyber-physical transportation system architecture, with an inte- grated logistic system coordinating fleets of trucks that travel to- gether in vehicle platoons. By reducing aerodynamic drag, truck platoons can save about 10% of their fuel consumption. Utilizing road grade information and vehicle-to-vehicle communication, a safe and fuel-optimized cooperative look-ahead control strategy can be implemented on top of the existing cruise controller. By optimizing the interaction between vehicles and platoons of vehicles, significant improvements can be achieved. The current industrial focus for platooning development is interoperability between truck brands and between truck operators, and to understand what services for strategic decision-making and coordination will be needed. The seminal work in this area by ICT TNG faculty researchers has motivated our position in the H2020 project ENSEMBLE, together with six European truck manu- facturers and twelve other partner organizations. The explicit aim of ENSEMBLE is “to take the last steps of technological re- search before full deployment of multi-brand truck platooning.


References to the research

[1] E. Björnson, R. Zakhour, D. Gesbert, and B. Ottersten, "Cooperative multicell precoding: Rate region characterization and distributed strategies with instantaneous and statistical CSI." ​IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing​ 58.8 (2010): 4298-4310.

[2] Y. Huang, G. Zheng, M. Bengtsson, K. Wong, L. Yang, and B. Ottersten, "Distributed Multicell Beamforming with Limited Intercell Coordination." ​IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing​ 59.2 (2011): 728-738.

[3] N. Moghadam, G. Fodor, M. Bengtsson and D. J. Love, "On the Energy Efficiency of MIMO Hybrid Beamforming for Millimeter Wave Systems with Nonlinear Power Amplifiers." ​IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications​ 17.11 (2018): 7208 -7221.

[4] H. Shokri-Ghadikolaei, C. Fischione, G. Fodor, P. Popovski, and M. Zorzi, "Millimeter Wave Cellular Networks: A MAC Layer Perspective." ​IEEE Transactions on Communications​ 63.10 (2015): 3437-3458.

[5] M. Zhan, Z. Pang, D. Dzung, and M. Xiao, "Channel Coding for High Performance Wireless Control in Critical Applications: Survey and Analysis." ​IEEE ACCESS​ 6 (2018): 29648-29664.

[6] X. Jiang, H. Shokri-Ghadikolaei, G. Fodor, E. Modiano, Z. Pang, M. Zorzi, and C. Fischione, "Low-Latency Networking: Where Latency Lurks and How to Tame It." Proccedings of the IEEE ACCESS​ 107:2 (2018): 280-306.

[7] C. Dombrowski, and J. Gross, "EchoRing: A Low-Latency, Reliable Token-Passing MAC Protocol for Wireless Industrial Networks." ​European Wireless​ 2015.

[8] Dubrova E, Hell M. Espresso: A stream cipher for 5G wireless communication systems. In Cryptography and Communications. March 2017

[9] K. Norrman, M. Näslund, E. Dubrova, Protecting IMSI and user privacy in 5G networks, Proc. of the 9th EAI International Conference on Mobile Multimedia Communications, 2016, pp. 159-166.

[10] Azari A, Popovski P, Miao G, Stefanovic C. Grant-free radio access for short-packet communications over 5G networks. In IEEE Global Communications Conference. December 2017

[11] Mahmoud Ismail, Salman Niazi, Mikael Ronström, Seif Haridi, Jim Dowling: Scaling HDFS to more than 1 million operations per second with HopsFS. CCGrid 2017: 683-688. IEEE SCALE 2017 prize.

References to corroborate the impact

Collaboration between ICT TNG and industry:

The ICT cluster in the Stockholm area:

5G deployment - 1,8 billion 5G subscritions by 2024:

5G and beyond
New strategy for treatment of fatty liver disease
CE@KTH leading the transition towards Circular Economy in Sweden
Climate modelling contributing to the IPCC report
Conversational social robotics
e-Science tools evaluate new population based prostate cancer screening tests
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Off-peak pilot Stockholm
Regularity-based bus services Stockholm
Sharing economy