Network-assisted device-to-device (D2D) communication is an emerging fifth-generation networking concept aimed at reducing the congestion on current cellular networks, caused by rapidly growing cellular traffic.
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“The current wireless technology (4G) is insufficient to meet the anticipated growth in traffic demand, made worse by the rapid proliferation in types and numbers of wireless devices. Furthermore, contemporary wireless networks are currently unable to deliver the desired ubiquitous connectivity experience. They lack uniformity in the data rates, suffer from excessive time delays and sometimes even service outages due to poor coverage and severe interference conditions,” says senior research scientist Sergey Andreev from Tampere University of Technology.
Cellular traffic offloading onto network-assisted D2D connections is a new technology that Intel, an American semiconductor supplier and ICT giant, Intel Finland’s research and development unit in Tampere, and researchers at the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering of TUT have been researching for the past several years. D2D communication is believed to be one of the fifth-generation (5G) networking technologies with the potential to both increase network capacity and improve user experience.
The TUT team has been helping Intel across the entire spectrum of their technology work: mathematical analysis, extensive system-level evaluations, and technology prototypes. They have also assisted in preparing standards contributions for the relevant technology solutions. Intel, in turn, is providing TUT with focused technical guidance, enriching the technical knowledge and understanding of TUT team members through collaborative work and weekly discussions.
Developing technologies for more efficient future cellular systems
TUT’s collaboration with Intel Labs US, based in Santa Clara, California, began in 2012 and then grew shortly afterwards under the framework of the DIGILE research program on the Internet of Things.
“We have been working very closely with Professor Yevgeni Koucheryavy and senior research scientist Sergey Andreev of TUT on several technologies that will be important in future cellular systems and standards. They are an outstanding and highly motivated team of researchers, and we look forward to delivering wireless innovations together,” says Shilpa Talwar, principal scientist at the Wireless Communications Group of Intel Labs, US.
“Some of the technologies we collaborate on include WiFi-based D2D communications and multi-radio small cells. We are in the process of expanding our fruitful and longstanding research collaboration with TUT to more 5G topics.”
According to Talwar, Intel and TUT have had a very successful track record of delivering new research together, from idea conception to System Level Simulator (SLS) development and prototyping.
4G vs. 5G: challenges to be solved
5G is not a single technology, but rather a synergistic collection of interworking technical solutions. These technologies would unlock substantial gains in network capacity and relieve congestion in future mobile networks.
“A 5G network would deliver its end users many times more capacity to enjoy a rich set of multimedia services. It would also provide a more uniform connectivity experience. Such networks would also be much more intelligent than the networks of today, in that the user equipment would be jointly optimised with the surrounding network context,” says senior research scientist Sergey Andreev.
“5G would also allow people to be connected at all times – no matter where they are, who they connect to, and what their service needs are – taking advantage of the rich set of services provided by the contemporary multimedia-over-wireless networks,” adds Professor Yevgeni Koucheryavy.
According to Andreev, the challenges are many, however. They range from how to develop an understanding of new 5G technology with a combined pursuit of analysis, computer simulations and prototyping, to ensuring that the relevant ideas would promptly land in corresponding wireless standards and products.
“But these ideas are expected to enrich our lives beyond what we can even imagine today. The 5G communication technologies are crucial to seamlessly connect people to one another and to a surrounding world of information and services. Ultimately, people’s smart devices will be able to connect them to a smart network, providing a deeply personal information experience,” Koucheryavy says.
Achievements of collaboration between Intel and TUT
- Joint research papers, including five accepted conference papers in high-level international conferences, one journal paper accepted, and two under review by top-level industry journals. In addition, two accepted book chapters to visible editorials on next-generation (fifth generation, 5G) networks.
- One of the joint journal publications, titled Cellular Traffic Offloading onto Network-Assisted Device-to-Device Connections, has been accepted to the leading publication forum of the industry, IEEE Communications Magazine.
- Two joint standardisation contributions on future 5G networks have been submitted to industrial committee 3GPP.
- A joint technology demonstration of assisted device-to-device offloading, delivered together with Intel at the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. The Mobile World Congress is the world's largest mobile industry exhibition, combined with a conference for mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners from across the world.
- Intel European Research & Innovation Conference ERIC 2013 was the first high-level disclosure of the joint results between Intel and TUT, from analysis to simulations and prototyping of network-assisted D2D technology. ERIC is an annual event organised by Intel Labs Europe, as part of its focus on research and innovation. It is closely aligned with Europe 2020, the European Union’s growth strategy for this decade.
Text: Leena Koskenlaakso
Photo: Mika Kanerva
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