Feasibility Study on a UK-China Open Access (B)4G Wireless Mobile Communication Testbed

Visiting researcher: Dr Xuemin Hong (HWU)
Host researcher: Prof. Yang Yang (WiCO) & Prof. Xiaofeng Tao (BUPT)
Duration: 3 months
Status: Completed
 

Biography of the visiting researcher

Xuemin Hong received his Ph.D. degree in 2008 from Heriot-Watt University, UK. He is currently a postdoctoral Research Associate at Heriot-Watt University and the Network Manager for the UK-China Science Bridges project: R&D on (B)4G Wireless Mobile Communications. From January 2009 to July 2009, he was a Post-doc Fellow at the University of Waterloo, Canada. From 2004 to 2005, he was affiliated with King’s College London, UK. Dr. Hong has published 17 technical papers in major international journals and conferences and 1 book chapter in the area of wireless communications. His research interests include 4G and beyond 4G wireless communications, cognitive radio networks, wireless propagation channel modelling, and multiple antenna technologies. He served as a publicity chair for IEEE CMC’10, a technical program committee member for IEEE HPCC'08 and IEEE CMC'09, and a reviewer for a number of international journals and conferences.
 
 

Background and Motivation

The 4th generation (4G) and beyond 4G (B4G) mobile communication systems are under rapid developments to revolutionise the ways people communicate by providing drastic improvements on the capacity, energy/spectrum efficiency, and coverage over 3G networks. These improvements are expected to hinge on the eventual actualisation of various advanced technical concepts, such as cooperative communications, cognitive radio, self-optimising network, and green radio.
 
 
Due to the absence of openly accessible platforms for rapid emulation and/or experiment of mobile wireless systems, research work on (B)4G networks has been conducted predominantly using simulations. However, even sophisticated simulators today can only provide limited fidelity to real-world systems due to commonly-used simplifying assumptions about wireless propagation channels, interfering conditions, and mobile user behaviours, etc. In addition, simulations usually fall short of addressing important practical issues such as implementation impairments, real-time requirements, and hardware complexity. Consequently, there is an increasing need in the research community to be able to conduct investigations of various advanced (B)4G technologies in real-world experiments. Experiments can serve as the proof of concept for futuristic technologies, which typically involve many interdependencies that are difficult to foresee and model with simulations. Experiments are also important to calibrate simulations and steer the R&D efforts to focus on tackling the right problems.       
 
 
The most prominent (B)4G testbed nowadays is the LTE-Advanced testbed established in Germany under the EASY-C project. Another system-level B3G/4G testbed featuring time division duplex (TDD) systems has been developed in China under the FuTURE project. However, both the above two testbeds are designed to focus on current 4G system testing and therefore provide limited ability to accommodate B4G features such as cognitive radio and green radio. Moreover, both testbeds are unaccessible to the wider research community, including most institutions in the UK.
 
Motivated by the lack of a future-proof, openly (and remotely) accessible experimental platform for (B)4G system testing, this project aims to investigate the feasibility of establishing an open access UK-China (B)4G testbed. Different from existing testbeds, this UK-China testbed will aim to address futuristic B4G issues such as cognitive radio and green radio. Furthermore, the testbed will aim to provide an open and automatic testing environment, allowing researchers to use the Internet to remotely configure the testbed and perform quality testing.
 
The proposed visiting fellowship is a pilot project to prepare for the work package (WP) 4 in the UK-China Science Bridges project on (B)4G mobile communications. This WP aims to develop prototypes and test/verify research findings using wireless testbeds. The proposed visit also brings together some of the most eligible partners in (B)4G system prototyping in the UK and China to create a solid foundation for further collaboration toward the eventual establishment of a UK-China (B)4G testbed. It is envisioned that such a testbed will not only significantly accelerate the speed of innovation in (B)4G research, but also greatly facilitate proof of concept, technology transfer, and commercialisation of (B)4G products in both the UK and China.
 

Research Activities

  1. Surveyed existing (B)4G testbeds in the world, particularly in the UK and China
  2.  Learned about the Gbps and FDD B3G testbed in SEU, the SWAN testbed in WiCO, and the Gbps and TDD B3G testbed in BUTP.
  3. Discussed architectures and purchasing options for the UC4G testbed
  4.  Investigated the technical feasibility to connect the UC4G testbed with other testbeds in the UK and China. 
 

Outcomes

  1. One technical report.
  2.  One joint publications: Wuxiong Zhang, Yu Chen, Yang Yang, Xiangyang Wang, Yu Zhang, Xuemin Hong and Guoqiang Mao, "Multi-hop Access Probability and Connectivity Probability in Infrastructure-based Vehicular Networks", under preparation
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