Madrid university to research theoretical bases of future wireless communications

Created December 9, 2016
Applications and Research

A University Carlos III, Madrid (UC3M) scientist, Tobias Koch, has received an ERC Starting Grant to establish the theoretical and mathematical bases that will enable faster and more efficient wireless communications in the future.

The research project to be carried out by Koch will be within the UC3M Signal Theory and Communications Department, under the name LOLITA (Information Theory for Low-Latency Wireless Communications).

Koch commented, “The design of low-latency wireless communication systems is a challenge, since it requires a different focus than that which is used in current high-speed data transmission systems. My project is seeking to establish the theoretical framework necessary to describe the fundamental tradeoffs in low-latency wireless communications. This will enable the design of novel systems that employ resources such as bandwidth and energy more efficiently.”

Current wireless communication systems exchange packets of several thousand bits and include large correction codes to protect them against transmission errors.

“What we do is to include additional bits to correct possible errors,” Koch added. “In this way, the reliability of the system is guaranteed; that which is transmitted is what is received. However, future low-latency systems will exchange information in a much quicker way – almost in real time – and, hence, exchange packets of only a few hundred bits, which will require the design of novel correction codes of a shorter length.”

“It will be like transporting goods in thousands of cars instead of dozens of trucks. For that purpose, it is necessary to design new correction codes that allow the cars to stay on track when there are driving mistakes. If we have to send many packets, we can decide if we store them in a warehouse and later send all of them in a truck, or if we send the packets one by one in a car.”

With a truck, it would take longer because you would have to wait to complete the load, but its advantage is that larger and stronger security systems (correction codes) can be employed because we have more space. In contrast, transportation by car would be faster because each packet could be sent the moment that it arrives at the warehouse, but then codes must be used that are not as strong.

This simile is related to some applications for this kind of technology. In the future, vehicles will be interconnected wirelessly, inter alia, to avoid accidents. To this end, communication needs to occur in almost real time with a delay of not more than 10 milliseconds, the researchers point out. Furthermore, low-latency wireless communications will be used in 5G networks, and applications can be found in many industrial processes.

This project, which commences on March 1, 2017 and has a duration of five years, will receive funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement number 714161).

University Carlos III, Madrid

Matthew Peach

This article was written
by Matthew Peach

Matthew Peach is a freelance technology journalist specialising in photonics and communications. He has previously worked for several business-to-business publishers, editing a range of high-tech magazines and websites.