Communication Agents for Mobility Enhancements in a Logical Environment of Open Networks
Existing telecommunication service and management architectures, such as IN (Intelligent Network) and TMN (Telecommunication Management Network), are based on the traditional RPC (Remote Procedure Call) paradigm of computing and provide services in a centralised manner. Service and management intelligence are located in only a few centralised network nodes, which results in potential communication inefficiencies and bottlenecks, and makes it difficult to achieve effective on-demand and customised service provision. New, innovative services are notoriously slow and difficult to implement.
Due to their inherent autonomy and mobility, mobile agents offer new possibilities for the provisioning of as yet unknown services in the emerging electronic service markets. By allowing the movement of both code and data, mobile agent systems have an extremely high potential to optimise the use of low-bandwidth, high-latency or unreliable network connections typical for mobile service environments. In addition, Agent Technology allows for rapid service deployment. These expected advantages have yet to be proved in scientific evaluations.
Key aspects of advanced communication services and applications in the near future will be personalisation and scalability. As a multiplicity of networks and transmission protocols will remain, users will look for seamless access to their personalised set of services from any suitable access point in either fixed or mobile networks, using different user devices. The main objectives of CAMELEON are therefore to develop and trial:
service roaming features through the application of agent technology in an Integrated Broadband Communication (IBC) architecture, exemplified with the Virtual Home Environment (VHE) developed for the Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS),
an agent-based VHE support environment to reduce lead-times and costs for the development and deployment of new and more advanced network-based services.
The approach of the project is based on the development of scaleable concepts for integrating the use of Agent Technology with the evolving traditional telecommunication infrastructure. The architectural concept will provide the framework for the development of three specific services. These services will be implemented and evaluated on two agent platforms, which are targeted on two different time horizons.
Agent Platform 2000
: The platform 2000 will use a Java-based Mobile Agent Framework to prototype the chosen end-user services and to show the feasibility of a mobile-agent based VHE approach. A number of platforms are possible candidates for the implementation, including Aglets Work Bench from IBM, Odyssey from General Magic and Voyager from Object Space.
Agent Platform 2005
: Agents and CORBA are hot topics and fast moving areas in today's IT world. These technologies offer a lot of new possibilities in the conceptual work to be exploited by new products. As the second implementation platform the OMG MASIF-compliant and CORBA-based Grasshopper environment will be used.
Summary of Trial
CAMELEON's approach is based on the conviction that function, fit and performance of the use of Agent Technology in telecommunication networks must be investigated jointly. Hence:
the functional adequacy will be assessed through user trials,
the implementation feasibility of the new technologies and its interworking will be evaluated through prototype implementations,
the performance of the CAMELEON architecture and services will be studied by simulations and by real-world experiments.
Demonstrations of the CAMELEON prototype software are planned for
. As the user trials must be performed on the basis of realistic, interesting services three VHE applications have been selected from a long list of promising candidates:
The Adaptive Profile Manager will demonstrate how user preferences can be considered in a flexible and personalised manner when incoming communication requests have to be handled automatically.
The Virtual Address Book will combine various data sources for storing user related address information and store them into a virtual, network-based agency. This service will allow a CAMELEON user to apply different types of terminals, with different degrees of computing and communication performance, placed at different geographic locations, to be used even when roaming outside the home network.
The Flexible Financial Service will demonstrate how agent technology can be applied within private and business sectors to enable terminal independent financial services from various mobile devices. Application performance and transaction security will be improved through the inherent autonomy of mobile agents.
The investigation of agents and agent technology in telecommunication networks, specifically focusing on the Virtual Home Environment.
The development of a scaleable and distributed service provisioning architecture to provide common sub-services to different service provisioning agencies.
The implementation of leading-edge applications to evaluate different agent-based telecommunication services and to evaluate the benefits of an agent-based VHE middleware architecture.
The evaluation of Service Roaming by guided user-trials and through the application of Agent Technology in UMTS environments, featuring the Virtual Home Environment.
The examination on how mobile agent technology can be used to improve the service quality, whilst simultaneously reducing the amount of bandwidth and the control of communication needed.
The validation of self-adaptable service provisioning architectures to reduce the communication-, computation- and co-ordination load from current telecommunication nodes and to support the new features and the adaptability of the next generation software phones.
The reduction of development- and deployment-costs for new and more advanced network-based telecommunication services.
The reduction of lead-times for new products and applications.
It is expected that CAMELEON will provide an in-depth understanding of potential benefits and risks of agent technology as a means to implement advanced services in third generation telecommunication networks.
The project will force and influence the ongoing UMTS and IMT-2000 standardisation work in ETSI and ITU-T in terms of service concepts, VHE concepts, and system architecture. Furthermore, the project will contribute to the ongoing standardisation in OMG and FIPA.
The following economic and industrial impacts are expected:
Growing industrial revenues generated by the mobile communication sector in Europe through improved location-independent access to multimedia services,
Increased commercial interest by proven effectiveness of leading-edge applications, demonstrated and evaluated in guided User-Field.
The preparation of the European market for mobile multimedia services through demonstrations at trade fairs, publications, etc.
Reduced importance of geographical locations and thereby the integration of peripheral European areas and economic centres.
It is expect that the work will increase the quality of life for people in their working and spare time. A high-performance mobile multimedia system realising the VHE in UMTS networks will allow people to:
Feel safer and more comfortable, because help and real-time assistance can be called easily.
Feel more in contact with family and friends. No calls will be lost and new contacts can be established easily.
Feel more independent, because the office environment can be accessed from any place and at any time.
Feel more in touch with the latest events, because multimedia services and agents will offer the latest information, adapted to the personal needs.