The FLEX 2nd Open Call closed on December 2, 2015 at 17:00h CET (Brussels time). We received 20 proposals, 12 of them were of type "Protocol Improvements" and 8 of them were of type "Applications over LTE".
Regarding the type of participants, 14 of them were from Academia, 11 from SMEs and 3 from the Industry.
Proposals were originated from a lot of different countries, namely 2 from Italy, 2 from Portugal, 3 from Sweden, 8 from Greece, 2 from Belgium, 3 from Norway, 2 from Finland and 1 from Turkey, from Switzerland, from Spain, from UK, from Ireland and from France respectively.
You can find below in the following graphs, all the statistics related to the proposals we received for the 2nd Open Call.
Geographical Distribution of the Proposals Received
The proposals selected address the following areas of expertise:
Based on the ranking, on the requested funding of each proposal, as well as on the open call budget, the following proposals were selected:
Mobile broadband (MBB) networks revolutionized the way that people interact by joining mobility and communications together. Ongoing worldwide adoption of mobile devices has created an unprecedented demand for access to e-commerce, social media and entertainment applications anywhere, at any time. Thus, within this ecosystem, there is a strong need for tools to measure and understand the performance of MBB networks, especially, the quality of mobile services as experienced by the end-user.
In this proposal, our goal is twofold.
First, we propose to extend the capabilities of FLEX with the operational perspective from MONROE. This will result in a unique platform, FLEX-MONROE, which facilitates achieving a thorough understanding of LTE networks, one that captures the status of current operational MBB networks and one that also enables LTE performance improvements by allowing experimentation in an environment with controllable LTE parameters. We argue that FLEX--‐MONROE platform is crucial to understand, validate and ultimately improve how current operational MBB networks perform towards providing guidelines to the design of future 5G architectures.
Second, using this unique platform, we propose to build an application performance model that can illustrate how variations in the LTE network parameters influence the network characteristics, which, in turn, translate to application performance metrics that represent the end--‐user experience. By quantifying the effects of low--‐level tweaks in network parameters in the LTE infrastructure on the application performance, our ambition is to provide guidelines on how to improve the application performance in the current and future MBB networks.
Empowering today’s LTE infrastructures with direct device communication capabilities is an emerging paradigm, gaining momentum within the telecom industry. Device-centric communications or simply D2D allow for two user equipment devices to communicate directly, hence allowing single-hop communication instead of the conventional two-hop cellular architecture, where the base station is always the one end of each communication pair. The expected benefits are prominent both from the network and the user side: increased capacity and power efficiency due to link proximity, efficient reuse of LTE spectrum, reduced communication latency, new vertical use-cases support, such as Vehicular Communications, to name the most important of them. For the above reasons the latest LTE release (Rel.12) introduced new D2D-over-LTE radio protocols, while D2D evolution study items have been already set for LTE-Advanced Pro (4.5G) and beyond (5G). In this context, FLEX-D, a project for experimenting with flexible D2D communications over LTE, aspires to fill an existing gap in the FLEX facilities by proposing and developing a set of D2D enabling innovative components, allowing for device-centric experimentation within legacy LTE network deployments. FLEX-D is organized into three experimental tracks. The 1st track addresses the LTE resources sharing challenge, when a D2D access layer operates within the established LTE layer. To this end an LTE air-sniffer will be deployed in a legacy FLEX network for identifying in a cognitive way the non-occupied LTE spectrum, which could become available for D2D access. The 2nd track addresses the radio protocol challenges of D2D communication, and in particular the PHY design. Toward this purpose a 3GPP-compliant D2D link will be developed and deployed in a software defined radio platform, for benchmarking the D2D performance in real-world propagation environments. The final track integrates the output of the previous experiments and showcases the operation and benefits of allowing direct device communications within an LTE cellular network. In this respect, FLEX-D will promote FLEX sustainability, through offering new known-how and facilities for experimenting with the LTE D2D radio technology, considered today a promising driver of LTE shorter and longer-term evolution.
Future 5G networks are expected to provide larger capacity towards meeting the demands set by the operation of massively interconnected IoT devices. Current pilot deployments, usually exploit a cellular network link as their backbone connection for aggregated measurements collection and processing, while they use mesh-type networks for the communication within the IoT cluster. In FLIoT, we propose to setup such an environment for the integration of a real IoT cluster setup with the FLEX testbeds and platforms. We will investigate the alternate usage of long range low power communication devices, stemming from the IoT world, measured against the usage of LTE, as well as their coexistence in the sub-1GHz frequency bands. Moreover, we will provide an efficient scheme for the end-to-end allocation of slices based on QoS demands and SLAs, involving heterogeneous wireless technologies that are available in FLEX. Finally, all of our contributions will be made fully integrated with the existing FLEX tools and practices, and we will demonstrate our achievements under a real use case pilot, conducted at the NITOS testbed.
Mobile network technology is undergoing a significant revolution, driven by the exponentially growing mobile data traffic, the need to support both traditional human type communication alongside newer machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, and the ambition underlying 5G to turn next-generation mobile infrastructure to be the universal means of communications across both consumer and industrial settings. These advances bring in significant complexity and the need for greater coordination among network elements, especially in Radio Access Networks (RANs), for efficient operation. The intention to use software-defined networking (SDN) principles in mobile networks is gaining traction to better manage this complexity, enable coordination, provide greater flexibility and easier evolution at low cost through programmability, and ease deployment of novel services. While there exist real instances of SDN use in mobile core networks, the same is yet to happen in the RANs. This is despite the plethora of conceptual proposals for re-architecting the mobile RAN based on SDN principles, which can be attributed to the lack of implementable solutions and suitable prototyping/experimentation platforms.
In this project, we seek to address this gap and introduce PACER, a programmable LTE MAC controller framework, as a concrete foundational step towards realizing the vision of a software-defined RAN (SD-RAN) and to serve as a key building block of a future SD-RAN. Specifically, this project has two main objectives: (1) to integrate the PACER prototype implementation with the FLEX testbed infrastructure by interfacing it with the OpenAirInterface platform that is part of the FLEX testbed facilities; (2) to quantify the benefit of programmatic control of MAC in an LTE RAN through experimentation with PACER over FLEX, considering the specific use case of interference management through scheduler enhancements. Addressing the first objective in turn entails detailed experimental characterization of the impact of factors such as signalling and timing that influence the interaction between the PACER controller and the RAN data plane (base station hardware); this is a further aim of this project.
The findings of the aforementioned experimental investigations, along with our experiences obtained from integration of PACER with FLEX and the use of the FLEX facilities will be provided as feedback to the FLEX community, together with suggestions for potential improvements. Moreover, the testbed enhancements and the set of the obtained results will be made available to FIRE and the research community in general, allowing further large-scale experimentation in a topic that we believe will play a very significant role towards turning software-defined mobile networking a more complete reality and positively influence the evolution of mobile networks towards 5G.
The Internet of Things (IoT) will be at the core of future 5G wireless communications technology. The fusion of computing capabilities with communications will drive an explosion in the number of connected devices, revolutionizing sectors as diverse as energy, automotive, health, security and industry. Standardization efforts are currently underway within the 3GPP to support IoT devices within the existing LTE family of standards. These efforts will address the key requirements for IoT devices including long battery lives, low device cost, low deployment cost, extended coverage and support for massive numbers of devices. The key technology for IoT support in LTE is NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT), a new radio technology which will be introduced with release 13 in March 2016. Already, a shortlist of candidate technologies has been chosen by the technical specification group and the final features will be down-selected from this list at the RAN #70 plenary meeting in December 2015 before release in March.
Within FLEXIoT we will extend and enhance the FLEX testbed facilities to support these new NBIoT features of LTE release 13. We will build upon the existing opensource software radio LTE platforms of the FLEX project and we will ensure continued interoperability with the existing FIRE control, management and measurement tools. In doing so, we will fill a critical gap in the existing testbed facilities of the FIRE initiative by providing an open, highly-configurable platform for cellular IoT research and experimentation.
The expected impacts of FLEXIoT on FLEX, FIRE and the community at large are as follows. First, FLEXIoT will open the FLEX testbed to a huge range of new users, services and applications within the IoT ecosystem. This has the potential to attract many more researchers to the FLEX facilities. Second, FLEXIoT will keep the FLEX facilities at the cutting edge of LTE standardization efforts with early implementation of key release 13 features. Finally, FLEXIoT will place the FLEX and FIRE initiatives at the heart of the IoT research and development ecosystem for future 5G technologies by providing the world’s first open reference implementation of NBIoT.
LENA targets to experimentation on the FLEX LTE facilities by combining the existing Evolved Node B (eNB) with an execution infrastructure. In this direction, LENA will enhance the LTE FLEX testbed with a Network Function Virtualization (NFV) Point-of-Presence, for deploying core functionalities as Virtual Network Functions (VNF) at the network’s edge. This practice is consistent to the major trends in current communication network technologies. From technical point of view, the proposed experiment will investigate the deployment and migration of EPC S-GW as a VNF, aiming to increase responsiveness and to reduce the traffic load of the core network. Edge S-GW VNF solution is expected to be beneficial in cases of high end-user density and nomadic end-user behavior. To achieve its goals, LENA will be based upon well-established, open-source NFV orchestration and virtualization management tools. Following the experimentation described by LENA, the upgraded environment of the FLEX facility will be exploited and verified, leveraging on the high potential for improvements relevant to the NFV domain. Also the strong engagement of ORION to other H2020 5G-PPP projects will pave the way for strong interaction and feedback to the 5G community. Thus, advances and results achieved by LENA will be disseminated to a big variety of fellow stakeholders.
This project aims to implement and extensively evaluate the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) caching framework. The MEC server will be collocated with a macro eNB LTE station. The MEC caching application will be executed as a Virtual Network Function (VNFs) on top of the virtualized environment. To control the eNB and the MEC server, a cloud-based orchestration tool will be provided. The project will leverage the Software Defined Networking (SDN) framework to configure the macro eNB site on demand including the 3GPP radio-compliant interface and the MEC server to off-load the traffic towards the MEC caching application directly at an eNB. The performance of the MEC caching will be measured including network responsiveness, and the amount of off-loaded traffic. The outcome of this project aims to reduce OPEX costs of a Mobile Network Operator (MNO), Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) by a factor of 36%.
EMARIFLEX aims at further improve MAR technology, of which the foundation was laid in the research executed during the TRACK project. This innovative step is described more in detail in the remainder of this document. Basically, MAR2.0, as being referred to,
- enhances QoS,
- allows for real link aggregation,
- improves security,
- optimizes handover between wireless technologies (WiFi and cellular solutions) and
- adds LTE as wireless technology
The first goal of the proposed EMARIFLEX project is to prove and further optimize MAR2.0 technology in a realistic setting as being proposed in the FLEX project, with focus on testing LTE extensions. In the RAILS project, Televic Rail has executed real life tests on board a moving train. However, since the environment in such a test cannot be fully controlled (e.g. signal strength of WiFi access points in stations) and the repeatability of tests is almost impossible, a fully controllable and parameterizable test bed is essential. For the EMARIFLEX project W-iLab.t (iMinds) and NITOS (UTH) are valid candidates.
A second goal is the optimization of inter and intra technology handovers of MAR2.0, including LTE. Previous experiments revealed the rather poor support of intra-technology handovers in the available operating systems and driver software. Inter-technology handovers are supported by the MAR2.0 platform which is developed by Televic Rail to overcome these issues. First proof of concepts show positive results, although proper testing in a FLEX alike testbed is required before this technology can be rolled out to the field. This project will shorten go-to-market of this technology.Read More
To meet the unprecedented demand for mobile broadband services, LTE-A and 5G networks will take advantage of different types of spectrum bands, namely, exclusively licensed bands, license-exempt bands, and shared bands. In the future, the role of shared bands is likely to increase as the new means to respond to the growing traffic demand. The new Licensed Shared Access (LSA) regulatory regime offers the potential for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to gain access to new spectrum bands under conditions that resemble exclusive licensing while guaranteeing the incumbent spectrum users’ rights. In Europe, the LSA work is currently focused on the 2.3–2.4 GHz band as the first application where a 100 MHz can be made available to MNOs on a shared basis. The new LSA approach has attracted great interest from industry and is under standardization by ETSI RRS (Reconfigurable Radio Systems). It is claimed that the net present values of the benefits from deploying LSA in the 2.3–2.4 GHz band over the period 2015–2030 in Europe span a range, from EUR 6.5 billion to EUR 20 billion (Plum Consulting).
Despite of all the interest from the telecommunication industry in LSA, as an enabling technology to unlock additional spectrum for LTE in Europe, the topic was so far not addressed by the FLEX and even the FIRE program. However, there is a clear need of LSA experimentation with real LTE equipment, able to validate the latest protocol specifications produced by ETSI and ensuring no risk of interference with incumbent services (PMSEs, radars, etc).
In this context, the main objective of this project is to test the latest ETSI specifications of LSA using new software modules and existing LTE equipment provided by two FLEX testbeds (EURECOM and NITOS). The outcome of this project will have a great impact on stage 3 of the LSA standardization in ETSI. Moreover, the experiment will contribute towards a benchmarking of LSA technology in two different EU countries: France and Greece.Read More