TCD team wins €560,000 funding to research 5G technology

Connect Centre to take part in €5m Orca project to bring faster internet to EU homes

A research team based at the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Connect Centre at Trinity College has been awarded €560,000 as part of a €5 million EU project that aims to explore ways of achieving faster wireless internet speeds.

The project, involving research groups across the European Union, has been awarded €5 million by the EU’s Horizon 2020 fund to focus on 5G technology which will enable applications from ultra-high-definition video to the Internet of Things.

Prof Luiz Da Silva, principal investigator at Connect and chair of telecommunications at Trinity’s school of engineering, will lead Ireland’s contribution to the project. The programme, known as Orca – an acronym for Orchestration and Reconfiguration Control Architecture – runs until the end of 2019 and involves collaboration with research groups in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the US.

The project is intended to support the EU’s ambitious connectivity plan which aims to offer download speeds of at least 100 Mbps to all households and make 5G commercially available by 2020 in all member states.

‘Immense pressure’

“This research is urgent. The internet is already under immense pressure as it struggles to cope with user demand. The growing popularity of internet television and on-demand video means wireless technology must find new ways of delivering much faster speeds,” said Prof Da Silva.

“Until now, some of the leading ideas for the future of wireless internet have been examined only with theoretical simulations. This project will allow us to test these ideas experimentally,” he added.

Prof DaSilva, who is already involved in seven other EU-funded telecommunications research projects that have brought almost €2.3 million in funding to Ireland over the past two years, said the main focus of the new research will be the control mechanisms used in wireless technologies.

“Current resource management mechanisms in wireless networks are inadequate to deal with extreme (ultra-low latency, ultra-high throughput, ultra-high reliability) and diverging (low and high data rate, time-critical and non-time critical) communication needs. Interesting evolutions are happening at different levels and this is enabling the creation of parallel on-demand wireless network slices optimised for a specific set of requirements,” he said.

‘New frequency bands’

“Orca aims to bridge those interesting evolutions at different levels, making them mature enough to enable end-to-end networking experiments going from Software-Defined Radio (SDR), with Software-Defined Networking (SDN) to Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). We will open new frequency bands, by proposing SDR technology at mmWave frequencies that is mature and fast enough to be included in end-to-end networking experiments.”

Prof DaSilva also said the programme will seek to bridge SDR with SDN technology to enable the creation of multiple virtual networks that operate on the same infrastructure but meet the most diverse and stringent application requirements.

“A final step will be to enable advanced reprogramming of the SDR infrastructure, needed for offering versatile testbed facilities, paving the way towards, ultimately, on-demand wireless networking and experimentation,” he said.

Since its launch in 2015 the Connect Centre, a multi-institute research centre that is headquartered at TCD, with researchers at Cork Institute of Technology, DCU, DIT, Maynooth University, UCC, UCD, UL, TSSG at Waterford Institute of Technology and Tyndall National Institute, Cork, has won over €12.7 million in competitive Horizon 2020 EU funding.