Network technologies are at the core of telecommunications and the Internet infrastructure. Copper cables, fibre optics, satellites, wireless cellular systems are few examples of such technologies helping us to connect to each other.
The European Commission is funding research that enables these technologies to offer us an Internet for the future, where people, content, clouds and things will be connected.
The EU Framework Programme 7 (FP7) invests €100 million a year into research in network technologies. It supports value creation in Europe in the communications network domain. EU industrial players are recognised market leaders: 7 out of the 10 largest telecom operators (British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telenor, and Vodafone), as well as the world’s major telecom manufacturers (Alcatel‐Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia, and Nokia Siemens Networks) have their headquarters and origins in Europe. Since the FP7 programme started in 2007, 127 networking projects have received about €560 million in EU funding; this is the highest share of the ICT FP7 Thematic Priority, which amounts for €9 billion over the seven years of the programme's duration (2007-2013).
The diagram below shows how EU funding for Network Technologies is attributed.
Past EU networks research investments led to the setting up of a truly European networking research community and pole of excellence. In the mobile communications area for example, many of the basic concepts and technologies used in the current third-generation (3G) 'Universal Mobile Telecom System' (UMTS) standards and the newer very high-rate fourth-generation (4G) 'Long-Term Evolution' standard have been developed with strong support from the EU research ICT programme.
Indeed, the EU long-term research support has been instrumental to share risks with industry for network technologies, whose development cycle is on average ten years. In the future, network technology reserch findings can create big economic opportunities for EU businesses to grasp: the world market for advanced network equipment is of €300 billion a year. Technologies such as Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) & Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communications are also very promising both as ladders of competitiveness and as sources of novel usages.