Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

RIFE Report Summary

Project ID: 644663
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RIFE (architectuRe for an Internet For Everybody)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2016-07-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The vision of RIFE is to address the problem of providing affordable and sustainable access to the Internet by realising an architecture for an Internet for everybody that enables access to information and services at economically sustainable price points unmatched by today’s technologies while also catering to challenges, such as intermittent connectivity, posed by the varying environmental challenges that are imposed on those who want to connect.
The RIFE project is providing innovations for an Internet for everybody, building on prior academic work and producing the following major outcomes: 1) the definition of a unifying architecture with clear interfaces provided to application developers and component manufacturers, 2) the development of novel dissemination strategies that jointly optimise available bandwidth, storage and computation resources, integrating diverse network environments into the single RIFE architecture, and 3) a set of service and applications functions that will enable the full utilisation of the RIFE architecture in real-life settings.
RIFE provides points (1) through (3) within 4) a RIFE prototype platform that is being implemented and tested against Key Performance Indicators in both testbed and emulation settings as well as 5) in an operational trial within a community network that is linked via real-life satellite connectivity.
Finally, we will 6) evaluate the commercial viability of the RIFE platform to provide the basis for a sustainable value chain, and 7) establish RIFE as a key driver in the wider community of practitioners and researchers in this space.
These outcomes are more specifically realised by the following objectives:

1. Develop the unifying RIFE architecture with a clear set of abstractions being exposed to applications: The success of the current Internet is largely based on the unifying impact that the IP- based interfaces of the TCP/IP world had on the development of suitable applications. However, these abstractions assume an always-on connectivity from clients to providers of services, an assumption that RIFE not only challenges but also removes. With that, however, our architecture requires another set of common abstractions, one that not only accommodates the services of the current Internet but also the ones that we intend to enable with the RIFE architecture, including sensor-based, delay-tolerant and localised applications. This objective defined the requirements for this unifying architecture, its interfaces towards applications as well as to its enabling networks. We have specified the crucial interfaces in an open manner, aiming for fast adoption by developers as well as the networking community.

2. Develop a set of RIFE networking technologies that provide connectivity economically cheaper than today’s solutions: A set of networking technologies is required that demonstrates the ambition that RIFE embodies in terms of lowering costs and catering to challenges such as intermittent connectivity. For this, we are moving from always-on flow-oriented models of communication in today’s Internet to those that temporally and spatially decouple the sending of information from receiving it, by utilising well-researched ICN (Information-Centric Networking) concepts. This two-pronged decoupling of the communicating entities allows for dealing with challenges presented through intermittent connectivity as well as lowering the cost of providing backhaul capacity by utilising unused capacity for background transfers of information of content, which is then delivered to users in a locally optimal manner. This objective has led to the development and specification of a set of networking technologies that suitably demonstrates the ability of RIFE to provide connectivity where otherwise impossible (through available Internet technology), while also providing the technological basis for evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of RIFE as a whole.

3. Develop the RIFE prototype platform: Core to the RIFE project is the demonstration of feasibility and possible impact. For that reason, a working and usable platform is a key aspect since it will enable application development on top of our platform, showcasing existing and possibly new usages of the RIFE architecture. A working prototype will allow deployment in a real-world setting (see objective 4) as well as enable performance evaluation at scale, utilising emulation platform environments. This objective utilises and extends existing platforms in the ICN and DTN (Delay-Tolerant Networking) space and integrates the networking technologies of objective 2 into a working prototype that can be used for application development, real-world trials as well as performance evaluation at scale.

4. Deploy and evaluate the RIFE prototype in a real-world field trial: Demonstration of the RIFE prototype is most impactful when embedded into a real-world setting with a variety of access methods, most specifically mobile ones. Furthermore, the evaluation of Key Performance Indicators in terms of performance and economic costs needs integration into an environment that is realistic but also comparable to today’s deployments. For that reason, this objective will deploy the RIFE prototype in the Guifi.net network in Spain, allowing for comparative studies in terms of usability, usages, cost benefits and technical viability with a manageable, yet realistic deployment within a selected user community in the order of 40 participating households.

5. Develop compelling RIFE applications and services: RIFE’s goal is to bring Internet experiences to those who have been left out so far, while catering to the often challenging environments in which these experiences are to be delivered. For that, it is crucial to develop solutions to adapt well-known Internet experiences, such as email, wikis, web pages, and others to these challenging environments, utilising our RIFE platform. In addition, we foresee the development of applications and services that are targeted to communities that are finally enabled with connectivity for providing them with crucial connected services that makes their life safer, healthier and richer through solutions for, e.g., health and education, while also harnessing the possibilities introduced by future sensor-rich Internet of Things (IoT) environments, such as through smart cities, and the growing usage of mobile devices to access Internet services. This objective will develop such solutions both for existing and
envisioned new services, integrate them into the overall RIFE prototype and showcase them in our field trial within a selected user community.

6. Develop new business models for virtual network operators: Market adoption of the RIFE platform requires viable business models for the new players introduced by our proposition, most notably the virtual network operators. Based on our economic platform, we are developing concrete business models that will be evaluated with respect to the possibility of market adoption in different policy regimes, the viability under different incentive regimes (not only focusing on economic viability but also including social viability in, for instance, community-driven deployments) and sustainability in terms of investment models (e.g., driven by cross-subsidies with economic growth programmes). This objective will develop a range of evaluated deployment scenarios, underpinned with concrete business models for the involved players that can be utilised for the diffusion of the RIFE platform and technologies.

7. Establish RIFE as a key player in the wider community for an Internet for Everybody: The challenges of providing economically sustainable connectivity solutions is well recognised [BROAD2012][CABI2012][POOR][WORLD]. RIFE has the unique chance to provide a crucial set of building blocks that will finally make the Internet for Everybody successful, namely its RIFE architecture. This objective will establish the RIFE project as a key player in this wider community, by engaging in workshop organisation, publications as well as driving recently established initiatives, such as the IRTF GAIA RG (which is co-chaired by Dr. Sathiaseelan from Cambridge University). More specifically, RIFE will organise at least one workshop with practitioners and key organisations in this space for disseminating the results of this project as well as publish in relevant journals and conferences for diffusing the created knowledge of the RIFE project. We will further coordinate the wider dissemination of our results with the help of the GAIA RG in the IRTF, which includes notable members of this community.

Over its three years of duration, the project will progress its key technical contributions from Technology Readiness Level 2 (“technology concepts formulated”) to Technology Readiness Level 6 (“technology demonstrated in relevant environment; industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies”) or even 7 (“system prototype demonstration in operational environment”).

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The work is progressing on schedule; all planned deliverables have been produced and the respective milestones have been met.

The initial description and development of use cases, from an end user, deployment and business perspective led to the definition of requirements for the system architecture, described in deliverable D2.1 Usage Scenarios and Requirements (submitted in August 2015). Furthermore, a first set of system level architecture interfaces has been defined, including those for network internal interfaces. These interfaces are guiding the current development work.
Furthermore, key aspects of the IP and HTTP over ICN technologies have been integrated into the system architecture, together with some integration of the DTN work. Preliminary work on developing proper practices to attain meaningful and accurate user experience metrics using active video streaming tests has been done (a corresponding paper was accepted to NOSSDAV 2016).

The development of the RIFE system started with several advanced components, especially the Blackadder implementation of a publish/subscribe system and the SCAMPI platform for delay-tolerant and opportunistic networking. These were described in deliverable D3.1 Initial Platform Design and Set of Dissemination Strategies. While the interfaces between these components and their integration are being finalised, the associated software systems have been maintained and extended to serve better the target use cases of RIFE.

To achieve maximum synergy from other related efforts, Partners working on the development of the ICN and DTN implementations have been exploring synergies with the POINT project, particularly regarding the Integration of the ICN-based HTTP and IP level routing solutions developed in POINT. The present integration focus is on the demonstration for the M18 project review as well as necessary integration tasks for the upcoming Field Trial near Barcelona.

Going beyond the work on the basic delivery platform, further developments have started on application level functions for object level caching in DTN environments as well as managed service endpoint surrogacy, as enabled by the POINT ICN based routing solution. This work is described in deliverable D3.2 Initial Set of Application Functions. Such service architecture aspects will allow for novel use cases that exploit the enabled flexible caching and service surrogacy aspects first showcased at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai, and 5G World in London.

A framework for a web-based interface has been developed to access and interact with (cached) DTN objects and the development of functions for authenticated object manipulation within the network has begun, linking closely to the concepts of application surrogates.

In particular, design and development of the fronthaul dissemination strategy and preliminary evaluations have been carried out. As part of the fronthaul dissemination strategy, work has been carried out by both UCAM and IDC to design and develop the extensible Bloom Filter (XBF)/Scalable Bit Arrays (SBA) which aims to reduce the false positive issues of traditional Bloom Filter mechanisms used for source routing in the PURSUIT ICN project and allow for scaling beyond the limitations of fixed length BF forwarding identifiers, as devised by PURSUIT.

Extensive discussions between partners were undertaken to define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for both technical as well as socio-economical evaluations.
Use cases for backhaul dissemination strategies have also been defined for both satellite as well as TV White Space (TVWS). Currently, work is ongoing to explore these use cases further. With respect to TVWS and to understand unused spectrum usage, UCAM has been leveraging existing tools (http://www.zebra-rfo.org/) to map and visualise unused spectrum occupation. UCAM has also participated in the collection and analysis of extensive spectrum measurement campaigns in developing regions, as well as supporting the idea of open and regionalised spectrum repositories for spectrum management in developing regions.

Partners produced the deliverable D4.1 First Report on Technology Validation which documents the results from the intermediate technology validation with focus on the fronthaul ICN dissemination strategy using the emulation platform, and some initial ideas regarding the RIFE reference configuration as a more efficient techno-economic approach.
Discussions on the deployment of the Field Trial are ongoing. The architecture and the technical requirements have been defined, the location for the deployment has been selected, and most of the hardware has been purchased and is currently being deployed.

A distributed laboratory testbed to debug the software being developed and to run experiments has also been put in place. The testbed has a total of 21 nodes distributed among the partners` facilities combining virtual machines and dedicated equipment. It has been used in several demonstrations (e.g. the MWC 2016) and it is fully integrated into the production cycle.
Preliminary work for the integration of Thales’ OpenSAND testbed has been done. This testbed is a dedicated satellite system emulation platform, exploring the impact of the inherent long latency of the geostationary satellites on QoE for different applications, providing first input into the test platforms needed for evaluations and upcoming trials.

Disseminations
As part of the dissemination activities, the RIFE partners have been prominently involved in several dissemination activities in top international conferences, workshops, scientific journals as well as contributing in both standardization and pre-standardisation efforts at the IETF/IRTF. 19 papers have been presented in conferences and workshops and published in the corresponding proceedings, 2 articles have been published in journals (IEEE Communications and ACM SIGCOMM CCR), 6 standards contributions have been made (one of which led to an informational RFC). Other disseminations included 2 posters, 3 joint demonstrations with the POINT project (MWC Barcelona, MWC Shanghai and 5G World London), a booth at the “Cyprus Embraces Space 2016” event, visibility at a Technology Fair in Aalto University, and one co-organised workshop with the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP).
RIFE partners have contributed to IRTF drafts on community Networks, one of which became an informational RFC). RIFE partners have also actively participated in GAIA workshops (e.g. at the ACM DEV in 2015, ACM SIGCOMM in 2016, IETF meetings in Prague (2015) and Berlin (2016)) to disseminate RIFE outcomes to the wider audience.

UCAM has also been involved in training activities involving a workshop which they chaired at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) to train 29 practitioners and regulators from developing regions on ICN and its benefits for access in developing regions. This included hands-on practical training on the Blackadder platform. UCAM used this workshop as an opportunity to network with practitioners and regulators (from Ghana and Mozambique) to further discuss and understand the challenges of deploying low-cost access in their countries.

WP5 partners also completed the following deliverables:
- D5.1: Public and Internal Website,
- D5.2: Dissemination and Communication Plan,
- D5.3: Dissemination Report (Version 1),
- D5.4: RIFE Standardisation Survey,
- D5.6: Exploitation Plan (Version 1),
- D5.7: architectuRe of an Internet For Everybody (RIFE) document,
- D5.8: architectuRe of an Internet For Everybody (RIFE) leaflet and poster.

In D5.3 Dissemination Report (Version 1), information on all dissemination actions throughout the duration of the project M1-M18 has been documented.

Management
The project was successfully started in London at AVANTI with a Kick-off meeting held on 2nd - 4th February, 2015.
Subsequent Plenary Meetings and Project Management Team Meetings were held on June 10th - 12th, 2015 in Cambridge, hosted by UCAM, November 9th - 11th, 2015 in Barcelona, hosted by Guifi.net, and March 30th - April 1st, 2016 in Munich, hosted by TUM.
Teleconference calls for all partners are also held on the first Wednesday of each month.
In Addition, inter- and intra- WP meetings have taken place to facilitate discussions regarding interfaces and implementations.
Two Contract Amendments were produced during this reporting period:
• Prof. Joerg Ott left Aalto University to take up a Professorship at the Technical University of Munich and requested to take responsibilities and resources with him. This was accepted by AALTO and approved unanimously by the partners. Contract Amendment 1 added TUM as a beneficiary from 1st August 2015.
• It was discovered that the project could benefit from software and expertise in AVANTI UK, but only AVANTI Cyprus was a member of the consortium. Contract Amendment 2 added AVANTI UK as a “linked third party” to AVANTI Cyprus from 1st May 2016.
An interim technical project review was held in Brussels on November 20th, 2015. The recommendations from that review have been subsequently addressed.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

RIFE touches on a number of areas that go beyond pure networking and Internet-related aspects: given the fundamental role that the Internet plays in modern societies and economies, if successful in enabling ‘everyone, everywhere’ access its main benefits are likely to be society-wide. As a result, potential beneficiaries are numerous. These include: local and national governments, the general public, industry, academia, and third sector. The value is international in scope, as digital inclusion is desirable for all nations, developed and developing.

RIFE sets out to address the larger challenge defined in the workprogramme, namely that “The Future Internet topics will therefore ... support the advent of more efficient computational and data management models responding to the challenges posed by increased device / object connectivity and data-intensive applications” by specifically addressing the problem of providing economically sustainable Internet access for Everybody, in particular those who can otherwise not afford it. For this, RIFE will utilise the emerging paradigm of ICN to bring content and service closer to the end user and re-use otherwise under-used bandwidth on resource-constrained (and often expensive) backhaul links while facilitating the efficient and optimised localised dissemination of the content to end users. Our work in RIFE builds on successful ICN and DTN results by defining a unifying RIFE architecture that will support legacy IP and emerging ICN applications. Applying ICN concepts will allow for unifying resource management in a RIFE environment so that joint optimisation of bandwidth, storage and computation resources will allow for achieving our ambitious efficiency and economic sustainability goals. For this, we are providing concrete KPIs to judge the impact and efficacy of our architecture as well as the specific platform we will realise. We strongly believe that the outcome of our work will provide significant operational savings, ultimately enabling an economically viable Internet access for Everybody, while any outcome will provide concrete insights as to a possible migration strategy for operators and vendors alike as well as its possible barriers and obstacles. The RIFE results will implement our vision through well-defined KPIs and enabling platforms, allowing for informed investment decisions by key stakeholders of the Internet community to adopt our solutions for wide-scale deployment.

The project will enable new models for revenue creation for currently under-utilised infrastructure, allowing current business stakeholders to expand their revenues. The project will demonstrate an architectural framework that will allow extension of the stakeholder value chain by including more than the traditional parties (consumer and Internet Service Provider). By enabling the necessary technology and tools, the project will demonstrate the opportunity for charities and organisations to become Virtual Network Operators by buying services from wholesale operators at a lower cost for lower quality of service (example, buying the unused capacity at low cost). This provides better utilisation of the resources and new avenues for revenues for operators. This would in turn reduce operating expenditures for network operators. New access models will emerge, among them, multi-sided markets for charities and governments that could become Internet providers buying unused capacity and offering connectivity in digital divide affected areas or during particular emergency situations. RIFE will directly engage in multi-stakeholder dialogues, including regulation, around facilitating these new economic models and complementing our technological work with the necessary regulation that would allow for the new operator models to emerge. For this, RIFE will collaborate with the growing community within the IRTF GAIA RG, which includes many NGOs as well as industry stakeholders, such as BT and others, in order to remove any possible regulatory barriers for market uptake of RIFE solutions.

RIFE can also be used to transfer government and industry sensor data without the need for building new network infrastructure thus reducing capital expenditures. New revenue models can be generated in such a way that sharers are provided with financial incentives.

The RIFE architecture in itself does not require substantial standardisation and hence faces a low adoption and deployment risk: even a single RIFE gateway can already provide value add to a community, a pair of gateways deployed by an operator even more. RIFE is designed to be versatile so that no agreements need to be reached between communities: they can deploy whichever local dissemination strategies and operational support fit their respective needs best. RIFE is so flexible that even different flavours of delay- tolerant or information-centric networking concepts can be embraced because those primarily serve the local dissemination and access needs (rather than targeting replacing the global Internet infrastructure): the RIFE GW functions will perform the necessary translation and adaptation. The common abstraction layer offered by the RIFE architecture will also support flexible interactions for native RIFE applications deployed in the Internet, where RIFE overlays can operate end-to-end.
Aiding universal access will significantly boost the EU’s “Digital Agenda for Europe” programme. Many of those most reliant on the numerous services offered by Internet access are those currently digitally excluded, and so service access must be duplicated on- and off-line. In the UK alone, the potential annual savings from this have been calculated to be £2.2bn.

For the public, RIFE largely removes the socio-economic barriers to Internet access. The subsequent increase in those able to go online has a number of benefits with the most important being the reduction of digital exclusion. Those previously unable to afford access will be able to access crucial information services such as safety, security, employment, health, education, welfare, etc. Moreover, they will be able to access online marketplaces offering greater diversity of choice and value for money, a significant issue for those of limited mobility and often limited affordability in deprived areas. Socially isolated individuals will become easier to reach for targeted interventions, for example in directing them towards suitable skills training. Fundamentally, increased digital inclusion means a less divided society, the consequences of which were witnessed as recent rioting events in many places. These benefits are society-wide, as will be enabling the accelerated deployment of ‘digital by default’ services, which will mean all citizens are able to interact with government services more easily.
In the third sector, RIFE will directly aid the cause of digital inclusion and anti-poverty charities, by lowering barriers to access. It will also potentially make it easier to contact socially isolated individuals who would most benefit from their services.

For business, the primary benefit of increased online access is enabling additional participants in the Digital Economy. This means greater virtual footfall. There are also more direct benefits such as creating a driver for the uptake of smartphones. Additionally, there is the opportunity for businesses creating novel applications/services targeting the excluded population either directly or through new business models that include local stakeholders such as local businesses or administrations.

It is not just in EU countries where the positive impact of RIFE upon livelihoods might be felt. Indeed, a lack of access to the Internet and broadband is a global phenomenon that proportionately and negatively affects the poorest countries in the world, where challenges to socio-economic development are most pronounced. It is estimated that only 41% of the world’s households are connected to the Internet. Half of them are in less developed countries, where household Internet penetration has reached 28%. This is in stark contrast to the 78% of households in more developed countries.

Project partners have contributed to making progress beyond the state of the art as follows:

AALTO (Aalto University) has developed in the context of the technology validation work, a novel affordability framework to evaluate the impact of RIFE technical configurations with regard to operator costs, the market competition in the value network, and the traction of subsidies. The framework which is composed of socio-economic KPIs, supports the design of new technical configurations that minimise the access costs of end users. In addition, AALTO has led the elaboration of two technical configurations and their respective value configurations that might enable the future transfer of RIFE technologies to broadband market stakeholders.

TUM (Technische Universität München) has advanced the state of the art in supporting modern Web services in disconnected environments using the DTN dissemination strategy. The combination of the RIFE architecture and newly defined application support functionality enables interactive Web applications to be served from remote Network Attachment points to mobile users even when no back-end connectivity exists. This in turn allows rich Web services to be deployed quickly and cheaply in very challenging, underserved regions. The advances will be made open and publicly available through the Liberouter project.

GUIFI.net (Fundacio Privada Per A La Xarxa Oberta, Lliure I Neutral) has participated in the definition of the specification of the Field Trial requirements and has contributed to the design of the technical solution adopted. As a result of a public call run within the guifi.net community for hosting the Field Trial, a location has been selected and the deployment of the Field Trial equipment and has started. In terms of socio-economics and governance of community networks, the initial data sets of the system developed for easing cost sharing among the ISPs has been analysed.

IDC (InterDigital Europe, Ltd) has found that the synergy between the EU POINT and RIFE projects is a significant opportunity for InterDigital to develop a comprehensive service routing and surrogacy portfolio, based on a common architecture for IP-over-ICN solutions in POINT and RIFE. Specifically, the RIFE contribution of developing a (https://www.tum.de/die-tum/aktuelles/pressemitteilungen/kurz/article/33352/) service endpoint surrogate solution, allowing for managed placement, migration and mirroring of service endpoints across a geographical deployment such as that provided by Guifi.net enables the development of a solution portfolio across two projects rather than being limited to just RIFE. With this, InterDigital has been positioning the developments in RIFE (and POINT) as a consistent portfolio towards larger 5G efforts, as exemplified by the recently granted FLAME project (due to start in January 2017). Furthermore, the service surrogate solutions developed in RIFE are currently investigated as a 5G use case in 5GPPP efforts such as CONFIG with the ultimate goal of pushing key aspects of service routing and surrogacy into relevant standards to enable future 5G low latency and high throughput services.

UCAM (The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge) has been involved in training activities where they have chaired a workshop at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) to train 29 practitioners and regulators from developing regions on ICN and its benefits for access in developing regions. This included hands-on practical training on some of the core PURSUIT ICN/Blackadder platform. UCAM used this workshop as an opportunity to network with practitioners and regulators (from Ghana and Mozambique) to further discuss and understand the challenges of deploying low cost access in their respective countries. These discussions have been vital for providing valuable input into UCAM’s research strategy for future contributions to the RIFE project.

THALES (Thales Alenia Space France) has been involved on the integration of the push/pull caching model solution in the satelite communication business. The inherent long delay induced by the geostationary satellites (at least 10 times higher than for terrestrial communication one) deeply downgrades the user QoE, and solutions have to be found to tackle this issues. This aspect is even more critical when 5G requirements demand a further reduction in end-to-end latency.

The caching model, which could drastically reduce the latency between the server and the user, is considered as an interesting solution. But challenges such as the placement of the caching server (at the user terminal side or at the GW side), the memory size and cost, and the efficiency of caching mechanisms in a satellite communications context, have still to be evaluated. Specifications have therefore been done for the implementation of such a caching model in the OpenSAND platform which is a satellite telecommunication system emulation platform.

AVANTI (Avanti Hylas 2 Cyprus Ltd) has studied how its current satellite connectivity product could be improved by incorporating RIFE technology within its current offerings. In addition through the development of push-pull multicasting and edge caching techniques and the introduction of novel fronthaul dissemination strategies like ICN and DTN, that is all part of the RIFE platform, it aims to evolve the satellite broadband product further. The objective is to develop the technology and relevant business models to a state where the customer experience would improve but the cost of getting that experience would be reduced to allow a cost effective deployment of satellite connectivity services in challenged remote and under-serviced areas like rural Europe and Africa.

Related information

Record Number: 194820 / Last updated on: 2017-02-15
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