I just found out this weekend that my former school in Barcelona, the School of Telecommunications Engineering at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, is heading and coordinating a new project of the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union. The project, named FREEDOM (Femtocell-based network enhancement by interference management and coordination of information for seamless connectivity) aims to find new strategies to mitigate radio interference in Femtocell networks.

The project has set a few technical objectives to be accomplished over the next few years:

  • Analysis of the advantages of advanced interference-aware PHY techniques
  • Enhancements in the control plane procedures
  • Indications from the system level evaluation
  • Hardware demonstrator

I specially like that the project includes a final hardware-based demonstration step. The reason is that, back in 2005 and 2006, I worked in the same department – Signal Theory and Communications Department – in a project on Common Radio Resource Management for GSM-EDGE/UMTS/WiFi heterogeneous networks and everything was simulation-based using the OPNET network simulator. You can read a paper I published on that project and my final degree thesis (in Catalan) at my website.

Back to FREEDOM, at the project’s website, one can read the technical summary:

FREEDOM is an Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) of the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The goals of FREEDOM are aligned with the objective ICT-2007.1.1 “The Network of the Future”. FREEDOM is a consortium of 8 partners coordinated by UPC. The planned activities target at providing a new vision of a femto-based network, giving solutions to the major concerns about the foreseen mid-term (2011-2012) massive deployment ofFemto Access Points (FAPs).

In the recent years there has been an increasing demand for mobile traffic due to the large nomadic population and the type of applications to be employed. This has motivated that the near-future 4G networks must enhance their efficiency in terms of spectrum, energy and cost. The solution addressed in this project is the use of femtocells and it is also considered by several mobile operators (e.g. T-Mobile Europe, TELECOM-Italy and Vodafone in Europe; NTT DoCoMo and Softbank in Japan; O2/Telefonica, Sprint, AT&T Mobility and Verizon in the US; and Chunghwa in Taiwan) and different standards, such as IEEE 802.16m and LTE-Advanced.

Currently, femtocells and macrocells are seen as isolated networks, competing for the resources available in the common spectrum band, at the cost of injecting interference to the whole system. FREEDOM project faces key technical and industrial concerns about the foreseen mid-term massive deployment of femtocells by adopting a new approach based on cooperative/coordination paradigms, enabled by the quality-limited ISP backhaul link. The project does not disregard the approach of isolated networks because it is met when there is not enough backhaul link connecting femtocells and macrocell.s In order to guarantee a strong focus and efficiency, FREEDOM focuses on:

  • Advanced interference-aware cooperative PHY techniques,
  • Improvement of the control plane procedures for seamless connectivity, and
  • System-level evaluation and hardware demonstrator of the proposed femto-based network architecture