Mobile communications have seen a lot of innovation in recent times and there is still much more to come. We have moved from the GSM circuit switched voice system to complex services employing the Internet Protocol as the communications substrate. Mobile communications standards such as HSPA Advance and LTE have become jargon when talking about the 4G mobile networks. However, work still needs to be done to realize a transparent and seamless connectivity amongst different technologies. Innovation still needs to be made to provide improved QoS, QoE, and Cell Throughput while aiming for the convergence of all different technologies. Many more applications still need to be developed to utilize the full bandwidth offered by HSPA Advance, LTE and LTE Advance technologies.
In this context, academics and industry professionals are doing research and development in a variety of areas which benefit for the use of this technology. Some of these areas are:
- Green Technology and Communications
- Augmented Reality
- Vehicular Communication
- Location-based Accuracy
- Social Networking
- Data Mining
- Radio Resource Management in HSPA Advance, LTE, LTE advance
A Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) is basically a cell deployment technique where inside a macro cell we can have a pico/femto cell which can carry some of the extra load of the big cell. The main issue in HetNet is interference which is a consequence of the cells coverage overlapping. In this regard, the accessibility of a pico cell when serving a User Equipment diminishes due to the interference from the macro cell. One way to reduce interference is to use a different frequency for the pico/femto cells, however this could be expensive. For instance, Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (ICIC) is employed as a mechanism to assign unused frequencies to different sectors of a cell in order to mitigate interference. ICIC has been further enhanced (e-ICIC) allowing for signals in different cells to be orthogonal in the time domain and thus reducing interference further. In the area of HetNet, scope exists to further refine or to propose new algorithms for controlling interference and stabilizing data communications.
Green Technology and Communications
Green Technology is today’s buzzword. Global warming and climate change have made industry and general public to be aware of their carbon footprint. Great emphasis has been put to reduce carbon emission as much as possible and talk of introducing carbon tax in industry is heard.
Work is being done to save power and reduce energy consumption in all across mobile devices and infrastructures. In 3G Radio Access Network (RAN), features such as Continuous Packet Connectivity (CPC) and Fast Dormancy have been developed to reduce the mobile device battery consumption. Power efficient radio frequency hardware is being designed for Radio Base Stations. Cognitive radio and power control applications which can learn and adapt to both the radio interference and the power needs are an area of further investigation and study. Similarly smart electrical grids and distributed networking is an interesting area of research to propose novel solutions for a most efficient and smarter utilization and distribution of the energy.
Augmented Reality will be the killer application for smart phones and has the capability to mesmerize the whole world in the near future. Imagine you take a photo with your smart phone of a movie from an advertisement hoarding, and then the phone gives all the information regarding the film, plays a trailer and lets you know where the nearest movie theatre is. How wonderful this is?! There is significant research potential in this area to bring the virtual world into reality with the assistance of smart mobile phones and sensor devices.
Exploring possibilities to integrate mobile device applications for vehicular communication is an interesting area. Imagine your car automatically dials emergency number 112 when you have a car accident. A mobile device could be fitted in a car and upon detection of accident through sensors; it could call the emergency number. The mobile device could also obtain positioning information from RAN (based on Radio Environment Statistics (RES)) or extract positioning information from GPS application of the mobile device, upon receipt of geographical information; the device could convey this information as well to emergency department. There is a greater need of integrating usage of mobile technology into vehicular technology for the greater good of human kind and saving valuable human life.
Though nowadays mobile devices integrate a GPS device for location accuracy, its constrained indoor operation and high battery consumption make them not that efficient. The RES is also used by the RAN to localize the position of the User Equipment. The RES optional feature in RAN employs User Equipment measurement reports to determine the location. Similarly in Wi-Fi, the radio signal strength of a mobile device, and also integrated parts such as the microphone and the camera, have been used to determine location. New methods such as the beam forming technique and the use of MIMO antennas are an emerging area of study to determine location precisely.
Security has been always an area of concern in wireless mobile networks. Mobile devices are especially vulnerable to eavesdropping. One of the new applications is the mobile payment; mobile devices are used to make payments in shops, restaurants or for money transfer. This kind of application requires robust security measures for these kinds of transactions. There exists research opportunity in the area of identity management, secure payment methods through mobile device and efficient and robust cryptography algorithms.
Social Networking is one of the most powerful mass media applications in today’s world. Applications such as aka-aki in smart phones are given the opportunity for unknown people to meet each other. The application notifies a subscribed user by indicating that somebody with similar interests is nearby such that the users could end up meeting. There is a large potential for this kind of innovative social networking applications for mobile devices. Facebook, twitter, mocospace, googleplus and bluepulse, have brought a new dimension to the whole world.
The number of mobile subscribers has tremendously increased in the past decade giving rise to the importance of Data Mining. Intelligent and efficient algorithms are required to gather valuable information from ever increasing mobile traffic. This area is more attractive from the marketing perspective.
Radio Resource Management
Wireless resources are limited and a number of algorithms exist to efficiently utilize the limited radio resources in HSPA and LTE. However, there is still a large scope of innovation in this crucial area. In LTE, the technique e-ICIC to mitigate interference and thus to utilize radio resources is a part of RRM. Similarly scheduling algorithm in HSPA and LTE plays a critical role in efficiently utilizing the radio resources. Scheduling algorithms should focus on delivering improved QoS and simultaneously attaining high Cell Throughput in HSPA Advance and LTE Networks. Novel and efficient interference techniques and scheduling algorithms are needed in Next Generation of Mobile Networks.