How Software Defined Networking (SDN) Will Bolster 5G Networks in cities
an interview with João P. Vilela, Co-PI of the SNOB-5G project, from CISUC
João P. Vilela is a professor at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Porto, and a senior researcher at INESC TEC and Center for Informatics and Systems of the University of Coimbra (CISUC).
Dr.Vilela has been coordinator of several projects on security and privacy of computer and communication systems, with applications such as wireless networks, Internet of Things, and mobile devices. Specific research topics include wireless physical-layer security, security of next-generation networks, privacy-preserving data mining, location privacy and automated privacy protection.
The Centre for Informatics and Systems at the University of Coimbra (CISUC) is one of the most important Portuguese centers of research in the area of Computing Science and Information Technologies. CISUC received the highest grade (excellent) from an evaluation by the National Science and Technology Foundation.
SNOB-5G will carry out the research and development of a self-optimised, intelligent, and fault-tolerant wireless backhaul solution for 5G networks that will empower cities. 5G cities will be neutral hosts and promote total connectivity with a high-bandwidth, capacity and latency requirements, and the capability of accommodating new and innovative urban services. To do so, new research and development will be undertaken by the project partners.
Q: What’s the CISUC role in SNOB-5G?
A: CISUC is working on a technology called Software-Defined Networking (SDN), which are networks controlled at a software level. This enables the network to be intelligently and centrally controlled, or “programmed,” using software applications. These networks are easily adaptable to different contexts, which facilitates the management and the coordination between the various components of the network.
This is the main role of CISUC, working on SDN to ensure network coordination, as well as network security and privacy.
Q: You just explained that the main role of CISUC is related to SDN coordination, but also with security and privacy. What does that mean?
A: The networking mechanisms that we’re developing must be secure and resilient. This means that if the system is under attack an alternative mechanism should activate and keep networks working without disruption and with minimal delay. Another aspect is related with the privacy of the users, where we aim to develop mechanisms to protect users automatically. CISUC is working on automated privacy protection with minimum input from the users.
Q: Why is this project important to Smart Cities initiatives?
A: SNOB-5G aims to develop technologies which allow effective and scalable 5G communications ensuring resilience, ultra-low latency, and very high speed networks between devices (for example, through communication with smart lampposts all over the city) in order to provide new services and improve the smart cities. The development of these technologies will foster the expansion of 5G communication networks in cities with the best performance.
This will allow several stakeholders to make use of this solution to develop new and innovative smart-city applications and services. For example,
these technologies are crucial to foster the next generation of 5G applications and services such as intelligent transportation systems, augmented reality, and vehicular communication for autonomous driving.
In order to be effective, they must be networks of very high speed with minimal communication delays.
These networks that connect to devices will be available throughout the city. With this in mind, we’re taking into account the technology and the product developed by Ubiwhere – the Smart Lamppost. This urban furniture is equipped with new 5G technologies, such as mmWave, to distribute broadband networks at high rates and very low latency.
Using urban furniture like the Smart Lamppost with 5G connectivity overcomes the limitations (availability and installation costs) of wired connections to support the backhaul communication.
Q: Can you describe the complementary research components that make this project unique?
A: One of the main objectives of this project is the integration of the expertise from the different partners for development of a self-optimised, intelligent, and fault-tolerant wireless backhaul solution for 5G networks. We have synergies among: Telecommunications, Network Coding, Security and Privacy, which guarantees the R&D capacity required for the technological developments. The SNOB-5G project bridges the knowledge and key expertise from MIT on Network Coding for effective and reliable networked communications, the Institute of Telecommunications work on self-organized and autonomous networks over multiple radio access 5G technologies, with CISUC’s solutions for effective and adaptive network management considering the requirements of the technological components of other partners, as well as security an privacy mechanisms at the network and user levels.
All of these contributions from each partner are integrated in the project architecture and employed in the use cases, and are being evaluated in real pilots, which benefit from Ubiwhere’s expertise on rollout management platforms for 5G networks. Ubiwhere, the consortium leader, will also integrate the wireless backhauling solution in a commercial product – the Smart Lamppost – increasing the value of such a platform and empowering the introduction of a Neutral Host platform in the 5G business-level.