The network of the future, beyond theory

March 25, 2013, CORDIS

Nearly a decade ago, as the internet began to morph from a web of information into a web of connected people and things, European researchers saw not only theoretical possibilities but a chance to reinvent the network of the future. The results of this 'big thinking' can now be seen, as European designs and ideas are shaping networking environments, making them more efficient, robust and dare it be said … 'future proof'.

Experts predict the future networked society will be the result of a merger of the physical and digital worlds, thanks to the explosive growth of in everything from vehicles to raincoats.

Objects will be able to identify and locate each other, and 'chat amongst themselves', through advanced radio interfaces. Self-organised 'edge networks' - providing enhanced data rates for mobile and smart telephones - will become more common. People will be able to borrow bandwidth or piggyback on 'sharer' networks if they find themselves out of coverage.

The fixed networking environments and relationships that define today's infrastructure will evolve into ad-hoc relationships with greater flexibility and autonomy to meet the needs and budgets of users on the go.

Much of this fancy-sounding functionality is already available, or in the pipeline, thanks to developments in late-generation and networks. But technologists are not resting on their laurels.

This fast-evolving networking environment requires forward-looking research and governance policies, and may involve whole new principles and methods to design, develop, control and manage future multi-technology architectures. Dealing with the diversity of these scientific and socio- calls for an integrated, end-to-end approach. This is where the EU-funded project 'Anticipating the network of the future - from theory to design' (EURO-NF) stepped in.

Collective intelligence

The 54-month project pooled the talents of a whopping 35 partners from all over Europe and Israel. EURO-NF thus built on the successful EURO-NGI/FGI 'Network of Excellence', funded under FP6, to form the largest ' think tank' on networks of the future so far, and help establish and stimulate European expertise in the field of future networks.

'EURO-NF was like a funnel with several outlets,' says Markus Fiedler, professor at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH), Sweden, a EURO-NF partner. Existing work, new ideas and initiatives from the partners are entered at one end, he continues, and these are channelled into new projects and research directions with corresponding results and publications that benefit the European R&D landscape, including well-trained and networked students.

EURO-NF managed a gruelling schedule of integrating activities, such as researcher exchanges, summer schools, producing a knowledge map, and a series of events and workshops covering a range of topics, from next-generation internet developments and new trends in modelling to socio-economic issues affecting future networks.

Innovation-rich projects

Joint research projects aimed at improving knowledge in innovation-rich but under-represented areas were also supported within the EURO-NF framework. According to the team, these projects needed to be 'sharply focused, preferably on disruptive ideas on the networks of the future, and designed to gain new knowledge and explore the need for more research effort, anticipating scientific and technological needs'.

Take, for example, the joint project 'Impacts of network neutrality on the internet stakeholders' (INNIS) from EURO-NF's fifth call, which studied the question of network neutrality. This is a subject of 'vivid debate', according to the project team. They set out to elaborate and analyse models to investigate the potential consequences of network neutrality policies on the network ecosystem (with end-users, connection providers, content providers, and regulatory entities).

Meanwhile, the joint project 'Context-aware information dissemination in vehicular networks' (Cave-Net) investigated how, for example, taxi companies and public transport services, can leverage context-aware information - vehicle location, velocity, proximity, traffic density, delays, etc. - to improve service and performance.

On its web-portal, EURO-NF outlines in detail its many projects, events, integrating and dissemination activities, including a long list of publications from its research partners, and a link to the EURO-NF vision statement.

'This "vision" is in fact the result of a long-term, continuous brainstorming that we've been carrying out since our former project EURO-NGI,' says Kurt Tutschku, professor for Future Communication at the University of Vienna (endowed by A1TelekomAustria AG) and currently guest professor at BTH. He is the lead author of the vision statement.

Ambitious? Yes. But by leveraging the knowledge and market position of consortium partners, including industrial players, EURO-NF is helping to convert theoretical possibilities into innovative future network solutions and applications which benefit Europe and the economy.

Explore further: Preventing gridlock -- developing next-generation Internet infrastructure

More information: Link to project on CORDIS:

Link to project's website:

Related Stories

Ubiquitous broadband, more than optical illusion

February 19, 2008

Better access to ultra-fast broadband networks in Europe is driving development of a host of new web services, promising everything from video conferencing to internet protocol (IP) television. But “ultra-broadband” like ...

EU pushes button for next Internet age

May 3, 2011

Europe geared up on Tuesday for a quantum leap in Internet traffic and a new generation of infrastructure to carry data, announcing the launch of a 600-million-euro research and investment programme.

New book reviews research on key signaling molecule, NF-kB

May 25, 2010

NF-κB is a critical signaling molecule in the immune system that regulates cell survival and cell death, lymphocyte responses, and inflammation. Acting as a transcription factor that can receive several inputs, it coordinates ...

The Network of Everything

November 17, 2008

( -- Wireless experts believe that, by 2017, personal networks will have to cope with at least a thousand devices, like laptops, telephones, mp3 players, games, sensors and other technology. To link these devices ...

Poland goes cyber-smart for Euro 2012 fans

June 1, 2012

Cyber-minded fans heading to Euro 2012 in Poland are set to find life easier at the championship after organisers launched smartphone applications to help them navigate their way around.

Recommended for you

Permanent, wireless self-charging system using NIR band

October 8, 2018

As wearable devices are emerging, there are numerous studies on wireless charging systems. Here, a KAIST research team has developed a permanent, wireless self-charging platform for low-power wearable electronics by converting ...

Facebook launches AI video-calling device 'Portal'

October 8, 2018

Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant which is aiming for a slice of the smart speaker market that is currently dominated by Amazon and ...

Artificial enzymes convert solar energy into hydrogen gas

October 4, 2018

In a new scientific article, researchers at Uppsala University describe how, using a completely new method, they have synthesised an artificial enzyme that functions in the metabolism of living cells. These enzymes can utilize ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.