5G cellular network not far away

18 November 2016

A 5G cellular network that supports the trillions of interconnected devices predicted to be in use in the coming few years is being designed by telecommunications specialists at the University of Sydney.

Professor Branka Vucetic will lead the 5G cellular network research

Professor Branka Vucetic, Director of the Centre for Telecommunications Excellence, School of Electrical and Information Engineering, says the dramatic rise in connected devices now referred to as “Internet of Things” (IoT) for individual users or “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIoT) for corporate use will see a thousand-fold increase in mobile traffic.

A major challenge for developing the IIoT lies in building new ICT infrastructure with high standards of reliability, latency, security, and interoperability. IIoT applications face challenging requirements that cannot be met by today’s radio-access network, control and computing methodologies.

Critical is the timing or latency of the 5G network so to solve potential efficiency problems Professor Vucetic’s team will look at how to build the wireless network with almost zero latency.

“Latency describes the time it takes for a packet of data to get from one designated point to another within a computer network. And response times can affect efficiency,” explains Professor Vucetic.

“We will be investigating response times that are shorter than 1 millisecond. Improving the current response times will allow us to create the smart environments of our future and emerging technologies.

Infographic Internet of things

Make the connection - The industrial internet of things

The IIoT is currently in its infancy but to date Professor Vucetic’s team has been involved exciting pilot projects and research test-beds for trialling new technologies, in multiple vertical applications. An example is the Smart Grid Smart City (SGSC) Australian project, which has demonstrated several smart-grid applications on a limited scale for 30,000 NSW households.

 “In the New Year our researchers will be focussed on developing the new framework and models, algorithms and technologies for the next generation of the wireless cellular 5G.

“We are also be refining the requirements for the ultra-high reliability needed for machine-to-machine communications particularly within an industrial setting.  Our ultimate goal is to ensure there is no data lost in the exchange of information from one interface to another.

“Medical procedures are now being performed using robotic technologies. It allows doctors to perform complex procedures with precision and control.  The surgeon is not in the theatre. In the future they may not need to be in the same country.

“Power or smart grids in the energy sector also rely heavily on machine-to-machine communications and the concept of IoT.

 “We are will be increasing our team to fifty researchers for the five year project. The team will include postdoctoral and PhD researchers investigating the use of waveforms, signal processing and multiple antennas to improve spectral efficiency in 5G.

“We will also address the efficient use of the overall radio spectrum, defining software networking and network virtualization.

 “The technology associated with wireless communication has developed rapidly in the three decades. Mobile phones, mobile internet and Wi-Fi for example which we now take for granted."

The bottleneck in upscaling the deployment of IIoT applications lies in the challenge of using radio-access networks for large-scale connectivity, while meeting the latency and reliability requirements of industrial applications, such as fault detection and isolation in smart grids, self-driving cars, wheelchairs for nursing homes, and tele-robotic surgery.

What is the Internet of Things

  • An industry term coined to describe devices that collect and transmit data via the internet
  • IoT is connecting people-to-people, people-to-devices and devices-to-devices
  • IoT technology  started with devices such as handy banks or ATMs
  • A modified Coke vending machine at a USA University was the first internet-connected appliance
  • 50 billion devices worldwide will be connected to the internet by 2020
  • At the same time 250, 000 cars will be connected to the internet
  • Wearable devices - connected to the internet have tripled in the past 5 years
  • According to some estimates the IoT will contribute $10-15trillion USA to global Gdp in the next 20 years
  • For a device to be labelled as ‘IoT’ it must have seven design features: sensors, internet connectivity, processors, energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, quality and reliability, and   security
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refers to industrial technologies that communicate with each other

Victoria Hollick

Media and Public Relations Adviser
  • Level 5 School of Information Technologies Building J12