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Converged Optical-Mobile Access Networks with Dynamic and Efficient Resource allocation

Final Report Summary - COMANDER (Converged Optical-Mobile Access Networks with Dynamic and Efficient Resource allocation)

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Project Coordinator Prof. Nikos Pleros
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COMANDER aims at bringing together experts from the industry and academia with the long-term goal of delivering a state of the art, cutting-edge and cost-efficient approach to the problem of Next- Generation Access Networks (NGN) design. The design of NGN has since long dictated the necessity to merge the currently distinct optical and wireless infrastructures into an amalgamated network capable of offering the best part of both worlds: the stability and ultra-high speeds of optical fiber networks with the agility and flexibility of wireless networks. To achieve this goal, COMANDER employs a novel design that builds upon the Radio-over-Fiber paradigm, and proposes all the necessary solutions to overcome the existing limitations. Moreover, COMANDER goes beyond the architectural convergence by addressing for the first time the matter of NGN intelligence that will unleash the full capabilities of the unified Fiber-Wireless architecture. The scale and diversity of the NGN vision calls for the cooperation of many interdisciplinary experts from the fields of optical communications, wireless engineering, protocol design, network coding and simulation that up to now operated independently. COMANDER achieves these objectives via the fruitful collaboration of four partners, two from academia, i.e. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) and Technical University Berlin (TUB), and two SMEs, i.e. PhoeniX Software B.V. (PHX) and iQuadrat (IQU). The partners have consolidated and complementary expertise in the engineering, design, analysis, simulation and experimentation that are to fulfill the project’s goals.

The main achievements of COMANDER project back-to-back with its objectives have been the following:
Objective 1: Design and evaluation of the Converged Physical Layer Network Architecture concept
The basic operational features, the overall architecture along with the network and device level specifications of the COMANDER’s network (APM, CO, MT-MAC protocol) were addressed. Two architectural scenarios for the converged FTTH plus-60GHz RoF network have been designed: one for compatibility with the Cloud-RAN paradigm and the second for compatibility with the GPONs. For the second approach, the intelligent Medium-Transparent Access Control protocol has been studied in terms of throughput and delay performance. An optimized network configuration employing cyclic AWGR between the APM’s for reducing latency at inter-APM communication requests has been proposed and evaluated, adopting realistic specifications from an AWGR module designed within the COMANDER project. Handover handling algorithms in 60GHz-over-RoF small cells have been tested for packet drop rates in COMANDER's network. Finally, all-optical digital network coding has been proposed and implemented directly at the physical layer for fiber-wireless network approaches, extending traditional network coding schemes in COMANDER. Application scenarios and use cases have been also proposed and implemented.
Objective 2: To design, develop and deploy a FTTH-plus-60 GHz RoF Access Point Module
As a first step, the CO and the APM optical circuits were designed and tested in computer simulation environments. The complete COMANDER link was tested for various modulation formats (OOK, BPSK and QPSK) in sub-carrier modulated signals. WDM functionality was also investigated by using four optical channels simultaneously. In parallel, optical test signals emulating CO traffic towards two distinct APMs have been experimentally demonstrated. With respect to the APM, an APM chip was designed and subsequently fabricated within the framework of a MPW run of the FP7 project JEPPIX-PARADIGM using III-V photonic platforms by both Oclaro and HHI foundries. The HHI chip was fully characterized. The antenna unit of the APM was also investigated and it has been optimized in order to use a rectangular patch micro-strip antenna with coaxial feeding in an antenna array to meet beam-steering requirements.
Objective 3: Fully dynamic capacity allocation through intelligent Medium Access Control (MAC) protocols.
The MT-MAC protocol was developed and evaluated through simulation and analytical tools. A fairness enhancement algorithm has been also developed that enables the MT-MAC protocols to evenly distribute the network’s resources even when highly varying populations were connected to COMANDER’s APMs. Performance of the MT-MAC has been evaluated for different PON-compatible scenario comparing with conventional 802.11ad wireless-over-PON connectivity, concluding to the appropriate network planning specifications with respect to the number of optical wavelengths, application use cases and traffic direction, delay and throughput requirements. A preliminary analytical framework has been developed for calculating the delay in a fiber-wireless network with QoS support, while respective mathematical analysis for throughput calculations in non-saturated network conditions were performed.
Objective 4: Employ advanced NC over a hybrid Fiber-Wireless (FiWi) environment.
In parallel to traditional NC scenarios for the wireless domain, optical test signals have been deployed in the laboratory to demonstrate for the first time the concept of all-optical digital physical-layer network coding (AOPNC). Optical encoding and decoding has been verified in simulation and in experiments for data rates of 1 and 2.5 Gb/s NRZ-OOK on a 10GHz sub-carrier. Simulation experiments verified the successful operation of the COMANDER concept when extended to a 60 GHz SC frequency and electrical decoding. Based on those results, a PON scenario supporting Network Coding (NC) for inter-RAU communication in RoF networks was implemented at the IQU SLS platform and evaluated to address the benefits obtained at network-level for different communication profiles.

Impact and Exploitation Potential:
Within the course of the COMANDER project, an overall count of 19 researchers were secondeed between the partners for a cumulative period of 261.5 months, achieving a fruitful exchange of knowledge and a harmonic partner collaboration. A significant amount of dedicated transfer of knowledge activities accompanying the personnel secondment was carried out (conference attendance, seminars, workshops, summer schools, hands-on training etc) and helped towards strengthening the know-how exchange between academic and industrial partners on the very timely topic of NGN optical wireless communications: academic partners were exposed to the commercial reality of PIC design and 5G network domains, while the industrial partners broadened their technology know-how with the state-of-the-art antenna and fiber-based experimental processes offered by academia. The invaluable collaboration and complementary expertise of the partners extended beyond the COMANDER project creating a long-lasting collaboration that led in the synthesis of two new successfully EU-funded projects, streamlining COMANDER outcomes and synergies along the emerging area of 5G networks: (i) ICT-2016-2, “5G-PHOS- 5G integrated Fiber-Wireless networks exploiting existing photonic technologies for high-density SDN-programmable network architectures” and (ii) Marie-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) “5G STEP FWD-5G System Technological Enhancements Provided by Fiber Wireless Deployments” that will evolve the work done in COMANDER even further.