EU And Japan Partner For 100 Gbps Internet

Data protection © pedrosek, Shutterstock 2012

Japan and Europe have teamed up on a number of research projects, including one to develop 100 Gbps Internet technologies

The explosion of data worldwide is being cited as the reason why European and Japanese scientists are to research internet networks capable of 100 Gbps bandwidth.

The research project, one of six run by the EU and Japan, has just received a relatively modest 18m euros (£15.3m) in funding. The other research projects will tackle cyber security, network capacity, storage, high density data traffic and energy efficiency.

Capacity Crunch

Both Japan and the EU have recognised the need for faster and more more efficient networks that can cope with the ongoing data explosion.

According to the EC, the world generates 1.7 million billion bytes of data per minute, and data traffic volumes have doubled between early 2012 and early 2013.

Web adress, Internet © Pavel Ignatov Shutterstock 2012It warns that data volumes are expected to grow 12-fold by 2018, and there is a real risk that our existing networks will struggle to cope with the massive volumes of data in the future.

“Our Future Internet should know no barriers, least of all barriers created because we did not prepare for the data revolution,” said European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes.

Network Capacity

So in order to stay one step ahead of the looming data tsunami, officials are funding a number of joint research projects aimed at “redefining internet architectures to increase the efficiency of networks in carrying data.”

The projects were presented on Wednesday at an event in Tokyo, and involve both the European Commission and the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC), as well as the National Institute of ICT (NICT). The initiative also involves European and Japanese industrial players, universities and R&D centres, such as Orange, Telefonica, NEC, Panasonic, NTT, KDDI, ADVA, STMicroelectronics and Intel.

The project that is attracting the most attention is dubbed STRAUSS, which is researching fibre optic networks that can use software defined networking (SDN) principles, optical network virtualisation, as well as flexible optical circuit and packet switching technologies, to push network bandwidth beyond 100 Gbps.

This would for example allow for networks in the future that are 5,000 times faster than today’s average European broadband speed (i.e 100Gbps compared to 19.7Mbps).

This comes after BT successfully tested a long-distance 800Gbps “super-channel” on its core fibre network between covering BT’s Adastral Park research centre, near Ipswich in Suffolk, and the BT Tower in London.

However fixed-line is not the only answer, and another project (MiWEBA) looks to tackle the capacity issue wirelessly, by “making better use of existing radio frequencies in order to boost ultra-high speed and mobile connections.”

This project is researching mm-wave overlay heterogeneous networks (HetNet). Essentially, it envisages the use of mm-wave ultra-broadband base stations, coupled with mm-wave devices, all of which would be integrated into conventional cellular networks. It hopes that by “system design, international standardisation, and validation experiments of the mm-wave overlay HetNet, the project aims to extend the network capacity by 1,000 times to solve the capacity limitation issue at reasonable cost and without loss of convenience to users.”

Other Projects

The third project is dubbed NECOMA, and it seeks to explore new ways to strengthen the security of personal data in sensitive environments, i.e. medical records. It hopes to “develop and demonstrate new cyber defence mechanisms” that will hopefully secure not only networks and large computing infrastructures, but also user endpoints such as smartphones and browsers.

The fourth project, known as GreenICN, is tackling the thorny issue of energy efficiency in information networks. It aims to test network reliability in post-disaster situations such as earthquakes, hurricanes or tsunamis, when energy resources are scarce and network connectivity is intermittent at best.

The fifth project, ClouT, involves ‘leading European and Japanese industry as well as universities and research centres’ looks at the so called ‘smart city’. Specifically, it will examine the use of the cloud as an enabler to bridge the ‘Internet of Things’ to build efficient communication and collaboration platforms. It will try to allow real-time control of sensors enabling smart city operations such as energy use, traffic flow etc, and looks to provide “infrastructures, services, tools and applications that will be reused by different city stakeholders such as municipalities, citizens, service developers.”

There is not a great deal of information about the sixth and final project, FELIX, although it will apparently allow for the setting up of “joint EU-Japan experimental platforms that will help universities and research centres test new network technologies.”

Of course the above research is not the only tech project the EC is funding. Europe has also pledged a substantial investment in the so-called “wonder material” graphene, that was first developed by researchers at the University of Manchester.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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