INITIATE project calls for collaboration to spearhead internet research

The School’s Professor Harald Haas is leading the University’s involvement in INITIATE, an EPSRC-funded project which is spearheading research into the future capabilities of the Internet.

Understanding the behaviour of the Internet with its inherent complexity and scale is essential when designing new Internet systems and applications. This is increasingly important thanks to the emergence of 5G, cloud services and the Internet of Things (IoT), which all lead to significant increases both in connection capacity requirements and additional devices that require Internet connectivity.

INITIATE seeks to address this challenge by bringing together the UK’s expertise in network research and innovation along with operational, state-of the-art facilities at five leading networking labs in the Universities of Bristol, Lancaster, Edinburgh and King’s College London as well as at Digital Catapult, London.

The project has just announced that its “unique, distributed network research testbed” is open to collaborations with third party projects exploring areas including optical networks, wireless and radio frequency (RF) communications, the Internet of Things (IoT), software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV) and cloud / edge computing. The INITIATE Exchange Services will provide a scalable and easy “plug’n’play” framework for future testbeds to join in.

INITIATE’S testbed capability has already been verified within the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, a nationally coordinated government programme to boost the country’s digital infrastructure and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of 5G technology.

Examples of test projects include two recent world-first 5G musical performances, which used the INITIATE infrastructure to test and showcase the potential of ultra-low-latency, high-bandwidth, and full synchronisation delivery over a 5G network. In March 2019, ‘Orchestrating the Orchestra’ saw the world’s first fully synchronised concert connect musicians in three physical locations across London and Bristol, while a second showcase allowed jazz musician Jamie Cullum to deliver a live music lesson to pupils at Bristol, Birmingham and London.

Professor Harald Haas, who is Director of LiFi Research and Development Centre (LRDC) in our School, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be able to participate in the development of a national Internet experimentation infrastructure which serves as an integrator and translator for cross-disciplinary research in computer networking, wireless communications, computer science, software engineering and artificial intelligence technologies."

Mr Luis Lopez-Bracey, Portfolio Manager, UKRI (EPSRC) added:  “As distributed computing and applications become more prevalent, and in line with UKRI’s strategy to explore challenges related to Networks and Distributed Systems (e.g. reliability, interoperability and scalability), this announcement provides a fantastic opportunity for community engagement and exploitation of this cutting edge facility. [...] INITIATE will facilitate experimentation required for future internet research and complement the Government’s £200m allocation towards the 5G Testbed and Trials Programme.”

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