Friday, April 4, 2008

Key Technologies for Wireless Networking in the Next Decade

Report of a keynote given by Ian F. Akyildiz at AICCSA2008.

The keynote was very interesting as it provided a very good overview about existing/emerging technologies which are as follows:
  • xG Networks also referred to as dynamic spectrum access networks
  • Wireless Mesh Networks (WMN)
  • WiMAX
  • Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN)
xG Networks
The next generation (xG) networks will follow a dynamic spectrum assigned (versus fixed spectrum assignment as exists today) where so-called unlicensed users may make use of any available spectrum in cases where licensed users do not use them. That is, they'll jump from one 'spectrum hole' to another based on their availabilities. To me, the concept is very similar to connection-oriented vs. connection-less services or circuit-switched vs. packet-switched networks ... it seems, history repeats again ;-)

In any case, the framework elements for dynamic spectrum assignment (aka cognitive radio) has been presented:
  • Spectrum sensing: what's available?
  • Spectrum decision: select the best channel available
  • Spectrum sharing: coordinate with other users
  • Spectrum mobility -> hand-off: in case the licensed user appears the unlicensed one has to jump to another hole...
I.F. Akyildiz, W.-Y. Lee, M. C. Vuran, S. Mohanty, "NeXt generation/dynamic spectrum access/cognitive radio wireless networks: A survey", Computer Networks, vol. 50, no. 13, September 2006, pp. 2127-2159.

Wireless Mesh Networks (WMN)
This technology seems to be researched very well and there's a trend to merge channel allocation and routing. Also, cross-layer designs are making their way towards WMNs. The remaining challenge is how to manage the dynamics of WMNs?

I.F. Akyildiz, X. Wang, W. Wang, "Wireless mesh networks: a survey", Computer Networks, vol 47, no. 4, March 2005, pp. 445-487.

Should be a cheap alternative to cable/DSL but research is rare because it's difficult to get funding therefore, at least in the US...

Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN)
Basically, they've adopted (tweaking) tools from ad-hoc networks for WSNs which has become a paper writing race

As for WMNs, it seems it's heading towards cross-layer designs where the traditional layers are merged to a single communication module with the application layer sitting on-top.

M.C. Vuran, O.B. Akan, I.F. Akyildiz, "XLM: Cross Layer Module for Efficient Communication in Wireless Sensor Networks", submitted for journal publication, October 2007.

I.F. Akyildiz, T. Melodia, K.R. Chowdhury, "A survey on wireless multimedia sensor networks", Computer Networks, vol. 51, no. 4, March 2007, pp. 921-960.

Nano-Communication Networks
Finally, the next step will be the communication between nano devices that opens a huge amount of (new) research areas in the same way it was introduced when mirco devices began to communicate...

S. Hara, H. Yomo, P. Popovski, K. Hayashi, "New Paradigms in Wireless Communication Systems", Wireless Personal Communications, vol. 37, no. 3-4, May 2006, pp. 233-241.

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