But with their promise of low-latency for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and highly interactive services, results from the 'Low-Latency in Wireless Communications' (LOLA) project have wide appeal for very diverse sectors.
The LOLA team set itself an ambitious and measurable target – to reduce latencies, or delays in the time it takes to transmit data in a network, by a factor of 10 in comparison to today’s 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Long Term Evolution Advanced (LTE-A) systems. This was achieved for uplink access protocols targeting dense networks. The team also sought to obtain breakthroughs in modelling traffic for online gaming and in prototyping new algorithms.
Latencies are more than just an inconvenience. The concept underpinning the Internet of Things foresees machines communicating with one another via intelligent sensors. But for this to become a reality, communication must be rapid. Online games – whose significant revenue is set to continue growing – are an obvious example of how reduced transmission time will improve interactivity. Low latency would also have advantages for intelligent transport (e.g. anti-collision devices in vehicles) and distance medical monitoring.
There is also strong demand for rapidly deployable networks enabling emergency services to communicate easily with one another and control centres. Reducing latency here is a real challenge, involving not only the LTE-A cellular network, but also wireless mesh networks.
Results in action
The LOLA algorithms were tested on three testbeds using open-source technology:
The traffic models developed are already being used by project partner AT4Wireless in its test and measurement equipment, while other concrete applications for rapidly deployable networks are currently undergoing tests within the SHARING project, funded through the EUREKA cluster Celtic-Plus (www.celtic-initiative.org).
The testbeds are available for experimentation within the European Laboratory of Wireless Communications for the Future Internet (EUWin), as part of the NEWCOM# Network of Excellence and FP7 project FLEX.
Meanwhile, the scientific community is already benefiting from LOLA’s results. With the development of new algorithms that reduce latencies between cellular and mesh networks, the project enhanced EURECOM’s open source platform – OpenInterface.org – a design and development workbench that supports the user-centric development of multimodal interactive systems. It is used by numerous researchers – both academic and industrial – around the world.
Some of the project’s results have already been integrated into standards for the third-generation partnership programme 3GPP.