A liaison workshop with experts from research projects CONTENT, CROWD, and SODALES, all funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), was held in Pisa on October 18, 2013 hosted by Nextworks.

Focused and significant efforts are undergoing within these projects to attack three complementary key aspects of the next generation of mobile broadband wireless access networks, often identified in the specialised press as 5G. In fact, CONTENT is defining a solution for the efficient deployment of cloud-based applications in mobile networks, by providing an effective integration between the fixed metropolitan network interconnecting the sites of wireless base stations. CROWD is investigating novel algorithms and protocols for deploying extremely dense wireless networks in a sustainable manner, from an economic and energy consumption perspective. SODALES is developing a novel wireless access interconnection service that offers transparent transport services for mobile subscribers to support very fast access, i.e.10Gbps.

Despite the different challenges addressed a unifying element was found: researchers in the three projects have independently identified the use of a Software Defined Networking (SDN) approach as a necessary enabler for the realisation of their vision within their respective domains of interest. SDN is becoming a popular trend in the scientific and industrial research community, especially for the interconnection of high-end processing and storage systems in data centres. However, the key idea of SDN, which is to allow open access reconfiguration of programmable network devices from a logical entity called “controller”, was found to be applicable to the diverse problems of CONTENT, CROWD, and SODALES.

Needless to say, during the workshop such convergence was understood as extremely valuable. The mobile networks of the future will have to handle requirements, in terms of capacity, latency, reliability, and security, that are far beyond what can be done with today’s technology. Thus, small incremental steps will not suffice to meet the market and users’ expectations: a leapfrogging advance is needed, which, in turn, requires all the makers of the different pieces of such a big and complex system to be of the same mind and to share tools.

Before closing the workshop, the participants have agreed to explore further collaboration opportunities to mutually reinforce the research contributions and improve the visibility and impact of the individual project results via joint actions.

Back to the news