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Single Point Of aTtachment communications empowered by cLoud computing and bIG data analytics running on-top of massively distributed and loosely-coupled Heterogeneous mobile data neTworks

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SPOTLIGHT (Single Point Of aTtachment communications empowered by cLoud computing and bIG data analytics running on-top of massively distributed and loosely-coupled Heterogeneous mobile data neTworks)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2021-06-30

The mobile network ecosystem has changed dramatically in the last few years and now includes: i) a handful of network operators with heterogeneous RATs, ii) small cells that are randomly deployed by the end users, iii) a dense multitude of ubiquitous wireless objects, a.k.a. ‘things’, with diverse functional capabilities, iv) divergent traffic patterns among different networks, markets, and user types, and v) diverse processing, communication and storage capacity at the edge network. Besides, the operational capacity of the network core has dramatically increased due to the pooling of shared communication, computing and storage resources. This drastic transform of the mobile network ecosystem has revealed key vulnerabilities and performance limitations inherent to handling the connectivity of mobile terminals by a single point of attachment at the network edge.

Towards addressing these vulnerabilities and setting the foundations of the 5G and beyond mobile data network, in SPOTLIGHT we analyze, design, and optimize the performance of a disruptive new mobile network architecture: the SPOTLIGHT architecture. This architecture aims to break performance limitations of the currently loosely inter-connected, resource-fragmented and isolated in operation mobile network ecosystem, by transforming the existing multi-layered set of attachment points to a flat coalition of massively distributed transceivers utilizing a common pool of energy, radio, computing and storage resources that are optimally handled by a cloud-empowered network core. To further reduce response time and enhance network resilience, all functions necessary for mobile communications will be subject of: i) massive parallelization in cloud platforms at the network core (cloud-empowered network management), and ii) big data analysis on-top of a virtual pool of shared energy, radio, computing and storage resources at the network edge (fog-inspired network optimization).
The effort from the beginning of the project has been put towards developing the SPOTLIGHT RAN architecture that will provide massively distributed antennas at the network edge to enable uncoordinated uplink transmission, leading to a new network-topology-aware paradigm for the RAN taking it beyond the cellular approach and vastly improving services for all terminals and all proposed applications. Technologies under consideration by SPOTLIGHT include new multicarrier waveforms, millimetre-wave technology, beamforming, massive MIMO, data compression, and wireless network coding. The full state-of-the-art review has been completed and the results were successfully submitted in the respective deliverable. Moreover, work towards drastic cloud-enabled solutions for revolutionizing the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chain, optimizing radio resource and mobility management and enhancing the network core functions has been conducted. The researchers involved in the subject have been actively working towards that direction, reviewing the relevant state of the art, identifying open issues and establishing the specific targets for their individual projects.

Training activities have been developed according to the general work schedule. ESRs have developed their own Personal Development Career Plan (PCDP) under the guidance and close cooperation of the local Principal Investigator/s (PIs) within the first two months of their contract. In it, ESRs have described their long-term career objectives, their future training activities and the targeted publication plan. During the first 24 months of the project, the consortium has organized top-notch seminars and complementary courses, according (or even ahead) of the planning: Complementary Course on “Scientific Writing and Communication Skills”, Seminars 1, 2 and 3 (“5G networks and beyond”; “Theoretical and Simulation tools for the analysis of mobile networks”; “PHY techniques, waveform design and spectral efficiency enhancements”), and the first half of Seminar 5 on “Software Defined Networking and multi-tenancy in mobile networks”.

According to the plan, three e-newsletters have been published so far. The project successfully organized its first workshop on “Communications and Information Processing in 5G and Beyond Data Networks” in conjunction with IEEE CAMAD 2018. Six conference papers from SPOTLIGHT project’s ESRs have been accepted for publication and presentation, while four more have been submitted in top-tier journals. In the view of impact to standardization and open source projects, some ESRs identified relevant activity to monitor and consider future contributions. A contribution to the distributed mobility management (DMM) group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has been accomplished in the context of a 3GPP CT4 Liaison Statement to the IETF about the evolution of the 5G data plane. The project has also demonstrated notable participation to public events, including the Marie Curie Researchers’ Night around the EU and other local public events (e.g. IoT World Congress).
The technical scope of SPOTLIGHT covers a wide range of aspects, from the fundamentals of mobile data communication systems to more applied issues related to the support of innovative mobile data services, the efficient utilization of the radio spectrum, and the support of ultra-reliable delivery of popular content. Therefore, it provides a fruitful framework and creates excellent collaborative conditions for multidisciplinary work in trans-national level through the integration of outstanding research teams from the non-academic sector with expertise in high performance computing, design and performance evaluation of protocols for mobile data communications, and real-life network management and virtualization, as well as notable contribution to 5G standardization efforts (NEC and EAB). The collaboration of such a collection of non-academic partners creates a novel network-wide training structure in which work in academia is informed by the need of the private sector and takes the opportunity for being further matured into innovative products. This will be a competitive asset for the SPOTLIGHT ESRs. Besides, in a EU-wide scale, academic training programs (i.e. MScs and PhDs) mainly focus on theoretical aspects, such as protocol design and specification, or performance evaluation and analysis of 4G and Beyond systems, creating a critical deviation between the acquired knowledge and the needs of the non-academic sector which currently urges to develop innovative products and services for the 5G mobile data network. The SPOTLIGHT training network aims to bridge this gap by combining direct training actions from the private sector with academic expertise on PHY layer design, cloud/edge computing and tooling, protocol design and specification as well as SotA performance evaluation tools (e.g. mathematical, experimental and simulation) that capture the peculiar characteristic of the 5G and Beyond mobile data network. The secondments of ESRs, the participation of non-academic partners in the SB, and the inter-sectoral collaboration in the organization of events (or research papers) will enhance the existing cooperation and exchange technical expertise across the Network. This will foster future cooperation beyond the activities of the Network, in light of training researchers and working in research projects.