Cooperative backhaul aided next-generation digital subscriber loops

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Electronics and Computer Science

Abstract

Cisco has recently released its traffic forecast study, which suggests that the world will enter into the Zetta-byte era in 2018. The UK alone generates and consumes approximately 10% of the entire global tele-traffic, making the UK one of the most data-dependent countries on the globe. To meet the demand of exponentially growing tele-traffic and to sustain the current level of economical growth, a high-quality digital infrastructure based on innovative and cost efficient solutions is required. The current geo-economics and building-preservation of historic cities do not favour the pervasive penetration of fibre. Hence, a lower-cost solution based on the improved exploitation of the existing copper network is essential to facilitate transformation of the digital infrastructure to support the next evolutionary step to Giga-bit/s data rates.

Since their emergence in the 80's, Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) have remained the dominant technology for broadband access with 364.1 million subscribers worldwide. Eventually fibre solutions will become ubiquitous, but given the vast copper network across the UK/EU, the pervasive penetration of fibre may be delayed for decades and copper may remain the best solution for heritage environments to prevent irreparable damage to historical street fabric. Owing to significant technology investments, DSL technology has evolved dramatically, increasing the throughput from Kilo-bit/s upto Giga-bit/s, with the aid of the newly developed G.fast solution.

However, experts from our industrial partner BT believe that the throughput achieved with the aid of the state-of-the-art copper technology may only represent less than 30% of its ultimate capacity, when we exploit the hitherto unexploited high-frequency band. Hence, the research of next-generation ultra-high-throughput DSL systems beyond G.fast becomes of crucial importance and timely, where radically new signal processing techniques have to be conceived. The challenge is to conquer the entire Very High Frequency (VHF) band and to holistically design the amalgamated wire-line and wireless system considered. Our proposed research starts from the fundamental understanding of the DSL channel over the entire 500 MHz VHF band to the design of radical signal processing techniques for tackling the critical challenges. Holistic system optimization is proposed for exploiting the full potential of copper. Thanks to BT's huge support, our proposed research has a high immediate engineering impact and a long-term scientific adventure.

Planned Impact

o Economic/Societal Impact - The digital infrastructure plays a major role in spreading scientific, educational business and social information globally. However, the UK's growth in digital infrastructure lags behind that of its competitors, where the City Growth Commission report underlines that the existing national infrastructure is not matching the needs of sustained growth and if no investments are made to circumvent this problem, a loss of £90 billion will be encountered by 2026. The report further suggests that for every £1 invested, the UK's GDP is boosted by £1.3. Owing to the expensive roll-out of a full fibre infrastructure, a novel copper technology achieving tens of Giga bits/s throughput will be required to generate significant revenue for meeting the tele-traffic demands in a cost-effective and sustainable way. Hence, the success of this proposal is vital and lies within the primary focus of the UK's economy.

o Personal Impact - The research would make a substantial impact on the wider research community. This would help the UK to play a leading role in these transformative research areas. It would also help both the University of Southampton and Newcastle University to maintain its world-class research reputation, as well as further developing the expertise and project leadership skills of the investigators. The experience obtained under this EPSRC project would enable us to undertake more ambitious projects in the future, for the sake of making an even wider impact and contributions.

o Academic Impact - The research would make a substantial impact on the wider research community, as detailed in the Academic Beneficiaries section.

The underlying scientific approach will shed light on radical advances in `digital signal processing' in support of `an intelligent information infrastructure', under the EPSRC priority `Information and Communication Technologies'. Moreover, our proposed research on ultra-high-throughput DSL systems will conceithe required high-capacity back-haul of small-cells in the 5G wireless networks, which is addressed under the growing EPSRC `RF and microwave communications' research area. Finally, the wire-line and wireless convergence facilitated by our proposed research provides the fundamental support for creating the next generation Internet, which is envisioned to provide £50 ~ £100 billion per year benefits for the UK according to the `UK Future Internet Strategy Group'. Hence, our proposed research will establish such a digital infrastructure for supporting `information technology as a utility', as envisioned by the `Digital Economy' theme.

Publications


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Gupta S (2016) Resource Allocation for D2D Links in the FFR and SFR Aided Cellular Downlink in IEEE Transactions on Communications
Li X (2017) User-Centric Visible Light Communications for Energy-Efficient Scalable Video Streaming in IEEE Transactions on Green Communications and Networking
Thomas V (2016) Error Vector Magnitude Analysis of Fading SIMO Channels Relying on MRC Reception in IEEE Transactions on Communications
 
Description The new spatial modulation systems designed allow us to simplify the most costly part of mobile communications systems, namely the radio-frequency chain, which reduces the battery-drain of the new systems.
Exploitation Route The findings were lavishly documented in numerous papers and I would like to compile all results in a book, if time allows.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics
URL http://www-mobile.ecs.soton.ac.uk/newcomms/?q=node/178
 
Description We designed radically new so-called spatial modulation systems, which strike a flexible trade-off between the number of radio-frequency chains used by large-scale antenna systems and the attainable performance. Single-RF based MIMO systems were created for the first time. This work attracted the attention of InterDigital and they provided 100K funding for our team to develop these ideas further for commercial exploitation. There is also a joint patent with British Telecomm. Furthermore, Dr Rong Zhang was awarded a prestigious RAEng Fellowship, which allows him to spend 3 days a week with BT along with a PhD student in order to pave the way for an increased industrial, economic and societal impact.
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics
Impact Types Societal,Economic
 
Description EPSRC Institutional Support Dr Rong Zhang
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 07/2016 
End 03/2017
 
Description Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellowship Dr Rong Zhang
Amount £17,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2016 
End 04/2017
 
Description BT and NCL 
Organisation BT Group
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contributed in the research of next generation copper technology across a range of physical layer design challanges
Collaborator Contribution Contributed in direct industrial steering and feedback as well as measurement data from BT Contributed in academic discussion and exploitation
Impact n/a
Start Year 2015
 
Description BT and NCL 
Organisation Newcastle University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contributed in the research of next generation copper technology across a range of physical layer design challanges
Collaborator Contribution Contributed in direct industrial steering and feedback as well as measurement data from BT Contributed in academic discussion and exploitation
Impact n/a
Start Year 2015
 
Description EU GOLD 
Organisation EU Celtic-Plus GOLD
Country Germany, Federal Republic of 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contributed in the research and development of several key WPs within the consortium.
Collaborator Contribution Contributed in industrial steering and academic collaboration, outreach and engagement
Impact n/a
Start Year 2015
 
Description CommNet2 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact CommNet² is an EPSRC funded network that aims to bring together the UK academic community engaged in ICT research in order to identify, discuss and address the major ICT challenges of the future. This website acts as the central hub of CommNet² and aims to provide information on the activities of its members to the ICT community at large as well as the media, industry and prospective students. Some key features of the website include events booking and calendar; user groups; and directories of members and their Institutions.
Registration, which is quick and straightforward, will enable you to participate fully in the network, post articles, publicise and organise events and share material with collaborators.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL https://www.commnet.ac.uk/
 
Description EUSIPCO 2016 Conference Special Session 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 5 highly prestigious research groups were invited to submit paper to the special session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Tommy Flowers Institute 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 'Tommy Flowers Institute' is aimed to help develop the UK's future research leaders in industry and academia. Hosted at Adastral Park, Suffolk, the Tommy Flowers Institute will provide national doctoral and post-doctoral ICT industrial researcher development, run by business and academia together, to develop industrial researcher skills in the ICT sector. This research project has received many interests from both professional practitioners and ICT students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017