The rapid advancements in portable computing platforms and wireless communication technology have led to a broad interest in the design of instantly deployable wireless networks. These so-called `ad-hoc networks' are particularly suitable in situations where a fixed communication infrastructure, wireline or wireless, does not exist or malfunctions e.g. due to a disaster.
Important potential application areas of ad-hoc networking are emergency services, industry (distributed monitoring and control systems), research (distributed scientific experiments, sensor networks), road traffic (`intelligent car'), etc.. Moreover, complementing the existing infrastructure based access networks (e.g., WLAN, UMTS) by providing extended coverage, wireless ad-hoc networks can be viewed as the next step towards the ultimate objective of `ubiquitous' communications: enabling communications and access to information at any place, at any time and in any situation.
For example, wireless ad-hoc networks will enable emergency services to continuously overview and act upon the actual status of the situation by retrieving and exchanging detailed up-to-date situational awareness of the rescue workers. Deployment of high-bandwidth, robust, self-organising ad-hoc networks will enable quicker response to typical what/where/when questions, than the more vulnerable low-bandwidth communication networks currently in use.
This project will design and prototype the essential concepts and equipment enabling high-bandwidth, robust ad-hoc networking.
Despite considerable research activity over the last years, several significant technological challenges in the design of ad-hoc networks remain. Solutions from traditional wireless systems can mostly not be applied due to essential differences like as there are the lack of centralised control and variable topology. In particular, important but unresolved issues are (i) the lack of suitable interworking protocols and (ii) the lack of quality of service (QoS) control mechanisms. Interworking protocols are needed in order to enable service continuity across heterogeneous ad-hoc networks and infrastructure based networks (UMTS, WLAN, the Internet). QoS control mechanisms enable the support of real-time applications like interactive speech and video and other applications with stringent service requirements.
The present project addresses these major issues of interworking and QoS provisioning in wireless ad-hoc networks and aims at the following main results:
- Experimentally validated mechanisms, algorithms and protocols for the support of end-to-end QoS in a network with a rapidly changing topology;
- Theoretical models and algorithms for performance evaluation of ad-hoc networks under various load and system conditions;
- Experimentally validated concepts (algorithms and protocols) for the support of service continuity across ad-hoc networks and infrastructure based networks;
- Prototype ad-hoc networking nodes, implementing the validated part of the developed solutions for QoS provisioning and service continuity.
The R&D challenges in this project will be taken up by the Dutch participants:
- Thales Communications B.V.
- Twente Institute of Wireless and Mobile Communication
- University of Twente (Centre for Telematics and Information Technology), and
- TNO Telecom
working together with dedicated foreign partners within the scope of the pan-European ITEA-project `Easy Wireless'. The knowledge to be gained in the project will eventually be used by the participants (in follow up projects) for the development of ad-hoc network products and consultancy in the public services and ICT area.