R + D
Given the current trends towards network coexistence, small-cells and virtualization, the EXPLOR project aims to follow the 5G roadmap in terms of market relevant research, and beyond that – put in place the next piece of the 5G puzzle. It will thus merge the disciplinary fields of optical and wireless communication and networking, to develop an integrated, transparent, and flexible networking software targeting beyond 5G network scenario. This will assure the upmost relevance of the platform as the training, engineering and research tool beyond the project lifetime. Namely, we aim to build on small-cell technology by exploring the millimetre wave frequencies (towards 90 GHz) resulting in very small cells, or what we refer to as 5G femto-cells, providing Terabit Connectivity (TC). In the EXPLOR research scenario, femto-cells will be virtual in nature, based on extending the concept of C-RAN, and will coexist with macro- and small-cells relying on optical fronthaul (OFH). The C-RAN architecture concept will be integrated with the software defined optical distribution simulation module, that will allow complete flexibility in the optical network management, including the selection of the appropriate optical technology given the service requirements.
An additional vital EXPLOR project objective is to explore the cost, complexity and performance implications of various technologies, and enable comprehensive techno-economic considerations over EXPLOR platform. Thus, innovative aspects of EXPLOR project will enable flexible, multi-tech OFH architectures supporting coexistence with legacy technologies and improved aggregate network capacity at lower cost, as well as RAN with enhanced spectral, energy and area efficiency, delivering high adaptability to novel services and devices (i.e. supporting smart city and Internet of Things (IoT) operation).
As such, the EXPLOR project outcome is twofold: it will produce innovation by uniquely integrating novel concepts in both optical and wireless domains and addressing the B5G technical challenges, but also drive further innovation in the field as a performant and holistic training, engineering and research tool, enabling further modular extension. EXPLOR project will exploit the technical expertise of both the academic and industrial partners to enable relevant technology advances in the field of NG converged networks, effectively bring those advances close to the market, fulfil relevant and applicable inter-sectoral knowledge transfer – and foster lasting collaborations that outlive the project lifetime. EXPLOR platform thus hinges on inter-sectoral collaboration, equipment and software sharing, and pronounced training and knowledge transfer between the multidisciplinary academic and industrial partners. The mentioned academia-industry cooperation is especially highlighted through inter-sectoral secondments, organisation of training and seminars, workshops and other networking activities to facilitate knowledge acquisition and sharing.
European Union’s Horizon 2020