IEICE Information and Communication Technology Forum
New thinking for truly ubiquitous ample-speed wireless communications
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Growth in demand for communication services has been unrelenting during the past decade, both in terms of the number of users simultaneously requiring service and the high data rate (so called broadband) nature of user applications. For example, during the same period that the Internet grew from a global penetration of 12% in 2003 to 38% in 2013, the number of mobile cellular telephone subscriptions skyrocketed from 22% to 93% of the world’s population. Today's global communication network, providing reliable error-rare information transmission in a timely fashion, is a hugely commendable feat and the culmination of the work of governments, regulatory bodies, industry, academia and countless individuals over a period of more than 150 years. However, much of the work was unplanned and uncoordinated, and progress was piecemeal and often opportunistic and through trial and error. In particular, no one sat down 100 or 50 years ago and said, Let us build a global Internet, and here’s the plan. Furthermore, as evidenced by the evolutionary generations of cellular telephony from 1G in 1981 to 5G by 2020, innovative solutions are often short-sightedly targeted at current challenges rather than bold future aspirations. The short shelf life of 'innovative' designs should therefore hardly surprise. This talk envisions a future global communication network that caters to not just our eyes and ears but also our senses of touch and smell, connects people as well as functional things, provides continuous coverage and observation of the entire planet, focuses on ample rather than high speed, and makes sparing and sustainable use of resources. The realisation of this vision requires a host of new sensors and displays, but wireless connectivity capability must be ready for the global data transmission deluge that would ensue. Transmitters (from terrestrial systems to high-altitude platforms and space-orbiting satellites) and nodes that drive this future network will be intelligent link-aware devices capable of leveraging various signal processing strategies to optimally adapt to changing channel and network conditions. We discuss fundamental trade-offs amongst the three primary system resources of bandwidth, signal power and time and identify possible paths to a future-proof truly ubiquitous ample-speed global communication network. Solutions are discussed for densely populated conurbations and for coverage of regions around the North and South Poles that are invisible to geostationary satellites. Ideas and benefits are also presented for a global Earth monitoring constellation system (GEMCoS) that provides full and continuous sub-metre resolution imaging of the entire Earth (land and sea).