The FLEX 1st Open Call closed on October 31, 2014, at 17:00 CET. We received 19 proposals. 12 of them were from Academia, 4 from Research Institutes, 5 from SMEs and 2 from the Industry. In addition, 15 of them were of type "Innovative Experiments" and 4 of them were of type "Testbed Extensions".
Proposals were originated from a lot of different countries, namely 2 from Italy, 2 from UK, 2 from Germany, 4 from Spain, 4 from Greece, 2 from Portugal and 1 from Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Serbia and France, respectively.
You can find below in the following graphs, all the statistics related to the proposals we received for the 1st Open Call.
Based on the ranking, on the requested funding of each proposal, as well as on the open call budget, the following proposals seem to be selected:
Dense small cells networks are considered to be the most effective way to cope with the exponential increase in mobile traffic demand forecasted for the upcoming years. In this regard, LTE is in a privileged position to drive future Small Cell deployments. However, a ubiquitous deployment of LTE Small Cells poses significant challenges in practice, being backhauling one of the hardest problems to solve. The goal of SODALITE is to investigate and evaluate solutions for the LTE Small Cell backhaul, based on two main assumptions: i) the use of wireless backhauling, and ii) the use of a SDN architecture for network control.
In SODALITE we will evaluate and extend a generic SDN wireless backhauling technology that has been developed at I2CAT. In particular, this existing technology will be integrated with the LTE backhaul and will be optimized to transport LTE traffic, for example by defining mechanisms that allow the wireless transport nodes to match LTE bearers, or the SDN controller to interact with the EPC network. In addition, algorithms for load balancing and network-wide energy saving specific to the LTE Small Cell backhaul will be developed as SDN applications running on top of the SDN controller. Among the available FLEX facilities the NITOS testbed is considered the most appropriate testbed to execute the planned research, since it gathers in a single testbed commercial LTE equipment and programmable wireless transport nodes that can emulate realistic backhaul topologies, and are essential to this work.
The expected impacts of SODALITE on FLEX, FIRE and the community at large are as follows. First, SODALITE will deliver experimentation results on a hot research area that can potentially attract more researchers to FLEX facilities. Second, SODALITE will help validate the LTE access and EPC APIs that have been developed in FLEX. Third, SODALITE will impact the FIRE community by performing a stringent experiment on radio technologies, which will contribute to setting the ground for future 5G experimentation facilities. Finally, the technologies being developed at SODALITE are in close relation with standardization efforts being carried out by several groups at the ONF, IEEE and IETF standard bodies, which proves the potential of the developed technology to impact European industry in the short term.
As the explosion of Internet and mobile data traffic has placed significant pressure on cellular networks, data offloading to complementary networks (e.g. Wi-Fi) seems to be the most viable solution. For the operators, in contrast to network planning strategies for upgrading, expanding and building up new infrastructure, which means extra capital and operational costs (CAPEX and OPEX), offloading can offer a sufficient and low cost solution for cellular load decongestion. Mobile Data Offloading is also significantly important for the mobile users, who can further benefit from short-range links so as to achieve better performance and experience better quality of communication by shifting to complementary networks.
In this project, we propose the FLOW approach which aims at addressing the unique challenges that offloading brings and create an open and applicable framework for implementing advanced offloading techniques in heterogeneous networks (LTE & Wi-Fi). Firstly, according to the eligibility and availability of the complementary Wi-Fi networks and Access Points (APs), we will specify the amount of traffic to be offloaded relying on the load and congestion that an LTE cell experiences. This also depends on the cellular eNB configuration, the modulation and coding scheme (MCS) and the traffic of the mobile users. Moreover, we will explicitly determine the number and the specific users need to be offloaded (mobile users devices are equipped with both LTE cellular and Wi-Fi air interfaces). An important, yet under-addressed question is how much benefits offloading can bring to users and operators. Accordingly, we will study the benefits gained due to offloading, both for the eNB and the mobile UEs in terms of throughput, delay & latency improvements.
More specifically, relying on the latest respective 3GPP standard specifications, our approach will act in accordance with the current state-of-the-art, in order to re-design/enhance the elements within the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) architecture that will process offloading. We will follow a carefully designed research plan that builds upon our previous experimental and theoretical results and experience. Based on the developed tools and mechanisms, we will conduct offloading experiments in FLEX facility to evaluate the performance and assess the cost of applying offloading techniques. Additionally, we will apply fair pricing and cost sharing mechanisms in order to provide real incentives to mobile and Wi-Fi mesh users to participate in offloading and accordingly apply proper pricing policies. All the aforementioned mechanisms will be integrated into a practical system implementation that will enhance the FLEX project and broaden its impact to the research community.
The overarching outcome of the FLOW experiment is the delivery of a generic applicable framework for experimentation with mobile data offloading to stimulate FLEX experimenters towards developing emerging 4G/5G communication systems.
There is broad consensus that licensed spectrum represents one of the main growth drivers for the overall communications industry. However, given the constantly growing demand, available bandwidth in the licensed bands seems not to suffice for the future mobile data communication needs. Given the abundance of unlicensed spectrum worldwide (totaling around 800 MHz below 6 GHz), one of the major topics in the wireless industry is whether cellular services would benefit from using unlicensed spectrum and if so, how could such schemes take place.
Long-term evolution (LTE) is a rapidly growing global technology promising unprecedented data rates, higher capacity, and new levels of user experience. LTE Release 8 has been basis for the first wave of the LTE solutions while LTE Release 10, known as LTE–Advanced (LTE-A), has a goal to completely fulfill the requirements usually referred to as 4G. Carrier Aggregation as one of the key technologies in the LTE-A systems, opens the possibility for adding capacity to existing licensed bands by using unlicensed spectrum, referred to as LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U).
The basic idea of the CoordSS proposal is to facilitate experimentation with various coordination mechanisms required for the LTE-U operation. The proposed access scheme is based on Spectral Sensing with several semantic ontological descriptions for coordination, frequency selection and dynamic spectrum access. The experimentation framework will support LTE-U self-organizing networks exploiting the unlicensed spectrum available at the 5GHz band for carrier aggregation. In CoordSS we will experimentally investigate the performance benefits and unique challenges that the operation of LTE-U brings and we will demonstrate how Dynamic Spectrum Coordination can aid towards achieving fair coexistence in unlicensed bands. In order to accomplish this, we will design several experimental scenarios, which build on two basic experimental setups. The first experiment will focus on evaluating both the potential LTE-U performance benefits, as well as the degradation that co-existence issues might result in. The second experiment will showcase how Spectrum Sensing and Coordination mechanisms can aid towards enabling Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) for LTE-U devices and achieving fair co-existence with co-located devices operating in unlicensed spectrum. CoordSS experimentation solution and results will remain to the FLEX project even after its duration, thus strengthening FLEX’s positioning in the EU research infrastructure map, as LTE-U is one of the key enablers for investigating potential 5G protocol solutions.
This proposal is addressing the following two objectives of the FLEX OpenCall:
1) Testbed extensions to the FLEX infrastructure by using Advanced Open LTE interfaces that will be made interoperable with the existing FIRE control and management tools adopted by FLEX and
2) Testbed software enhancements, by means of building tools for supporting experimentation with the LTE equipment, which will be fully integrated with the existing tools.
The proposal aims at extending the FLEX infrastructure with a new LTE testbed facility, namely the FUSECO Playground testbed. This will allow significant extension and enhancement of the FLEX project infrastructure allowing for new possibilities of mobile broadband (2G, 3G, LTE, WiFi) experiments. First, within the FUSECO Playground, the OpenEPC, the core of a realistic, state-‐of-‐the-‐art operator network, based on the 3GPP EvolvedPacketCore(EPC) architecture standard, will realize a truly modern mobile broadband testing facility.
Second, by interconnecting with standard radio technologies and by offering IP connectivity services through a completely controllable small operator environment, various experiments will be enabled, reaching from standard LTE connectivity experiments, to QoS related experiments and hand-over scenarios (between 2G, 3G, LTE, WiFi), policy-/location-based access network selection3 scenarios.
Furthermore, FLEXCARE adds new capabilities supporting 5G research within Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN). These capabilities are realized through our OpenSDNCore  and Open5GCore  toolkits that will allow to instantiate orchestrated LTE functions (e.g. PDN-GW, S-GW, MME) virtualized and software-based as well as to separate the control plane from the user plane using the OpenFlow technology.
The major goal of the integration of the FUSECO Playground into the FLEX architecture is to provide remote access to these resources and services to FLEX experimenters. The FUSECO Playground is powered by the FITeagle toolkit which is developed by TUB, who is also leading and participating the standardization efforts for the next GENI/FIRE APIs and resource descriptions . FITeagle coordinates the authentication, resource description, discovery, provisioning and termination (namely by implementing the SFA AM API and testing it against clients such as omni, MySlice or jFed). Further, it can be used to monitor and control the internal testbed resources. Besides this, OMF6 resources controllers and OMSP compliant wrappers have already been deployed in the FUSECO Playground and the functionality has been demonstrated in several European projects. This preliminary work strongly supports to adoption of the FLEX APIs.
LTE (Long Term Evolution) will be one relevant technology in future 5G mobile communications, that will consist on very dense and complex deployments, with new approaches to guarantee availability, quality of service, and heterogeneous radio access. In the context of LTE testbeds UMA’s PerformLTE provides a very complementary approach to the testbeds federated in FLEX. PerformLTE provides conformance testing equipments that can be used to test end to end LTE communications in any standard bands with many different radio access configurations as well as small cells and a core network to provide end to end communication. These equipments are combined with power analyzers and channel emulators to obtain realistic measurements from real LTE networks. On the other hand FLEX provides an open source platform that can be used as UE and eNB and that allows modification in the protocol stack as well as heterogeneous mobile testbeds combining different technologies and LTE small cells connected to a commercial core.
Providing means to execute experiments across all this testbeds, even combining the different components of them will significantly increase the number of possible experiments as well as the complexity of them. Furthermore the proposal FlexformLTE will implement tools to improve interoperability testing extending FLEX platforms and providing valuable feedback on many of the project targets.
Finally the extension to enable combination of elements as well as the new tools will be tested by means of the execution of interoperability and performance testing campaigns which will enrich both FLEX and FLEXformLTE platforms as well as the equipment and testbeds provided by the members of the project.