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Visionary project on wireless communication launched

IMDEA Networks Institute launches a research project aimed to create a new communication paradigm for future very high speed wireless networks. The project – named ‘SEARCHLIGHT’ – responds to the challenge posed by the massive growth of wireless Internet traffic, probably the most remarkable communications phenomenon of recent years.

Dr. Joerg Widmer, who is group leader for the wireless networking research line at IMDEA Networks, is masterminding this visionary project, which will lead to the advancement of wireless communication and the improvement of its scalability, ubiquity and energy efficiency. Dr. Widmer is the recipient of a 1.7 million Euro ERC Consolidator Grant awarded by the European Research Council (ERC). ERC grants are the most valuable individual grants for researchers in Europe and a major indicator of excellence in scientific research. Over a five year period, he will employ this funding to develop a fundamentally novel communication architecture that enables the operation of very high speed wireless networks. This groundbreaking technology is meant to become a key enabler of mobile communications, leading towards the creation of a truly converged ICT infrastructure, allowing anywhere, anytime connectivity for all.

Dr. Widmer explained that “the current scenario requires a radical rethinking of wireless networking”. State-of-the-art wireless communication already operates close to maximum capacity and the only viable option to further increase data rates is to increase the communication bandwidth. Thus, SEARCHLIGHT is intended to develop wireless technologies in high frequency bands, such as the unlicensed 60GHz band. “We propose to design and build a wireless network architecture that is a key element for the scalability of future wireless communications”, stated Dr. Widmer. “In analogy to the evolution of wired Ethernet from a shared medium to a fully switched network, we envision that future wireless networks will consist of many highly directional LOS (line-of-sight) channels for communication between access points (APs) and end devices”.

SEARCHLIGHT is aligned with IMDEA Networks’ leading role in European research on mobile communications and, particularly, in the development of fifth-generation cellular networks (5G). This role is exemplified by the Institute’s membership of the 5G Infrastructure Association, a legal entity created by the European Commission and aiming to accelerate work on 5G networks with the year 2020 in sight. This partnership initiative will lead the 7-year long European effort to produce and influence international standards for next-generation cellular networks, laying out an ambitious research agenda.

Furthermore, the Institute’s Director, Prof. Dr. Arturo Azcorra, has been voted onto the Steering Board of the European Technology Platform responsible for the coordination of the 7 billion euro 5G PPP* initiative. The creation of a Joint Research Unit (JRU) in 5G technologies with Telefónica, the ongoing coordination of one of the current flagship European projects in the area of 5G, iJOIN, and the recent selection of another of IMDEA Networks’ running projects, CROWD, to join the group of “early 5G precursor projects” are further examples of the Institute’s scientific endeavor on advanced telecommunications research.

*Public-Private Partnership