Alcatel Lucent, NEC, Telefónica and BT are among the telcos exploring superfast service functions in 5G networks.
The Superfluidity project forms part of the European 5GPP initiative and will involve the development of a converged, cloud-based virtual network and service platform.
The 18 partners aim to show how 5G networks will allow operators the ability to launch services instantly and run them anywhere on a network, whether it is the core, aggregation or edge.
The companies behind the project said superfluidity would help overcome the long provisioning times of today's networks as well as remove the over-provisioning that happens as operators try to meet variable demand.
By virtualising network architecture into reusable small "software units" hosted in the cloud, operators will be able to change how they build their networks.
In a statement, the research consortium said: "The “superfluid” 5G network will enjoy: i) location independence of network services in heterogeneous networks; ii) time independence via instantaneous deployment and migration of services; iii) scale independence for almost unlimited and transparent service scalability; and iv) hardware independence via development and deployment of services with high performance irrespective of the underlying hardware."
The project will run until the end of 2017. Other companies involved include Citrix, Intel and Red Hat. Alcatel Lucent will be the technical coordinator for the project, which also boasts universities and enterprises among its members.
Yesterday Ericsson and Cisco announced a landmark 5G collaboration, which will involve them researching and building new network architectures.