Sunday, August 29, 2010

Project "MobilityFirst: Improving the Internet for 4 Billion Wireless Devices by 2015

The National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year, $7.5 million grant to a Rutgers University led research team to develop a future Internet design optimized for mobile networking and communication. The team of nine universities and several industrial partners has dubbed its project "MobilityFirst," reflecting the Internet's evolution away from traditional wired connections between desktop PCs and servers toward wireless data services on mobile platforms.

The group will design a “clean-slate” network architecture to accommodate the shift of Internet traffic to smart cellular phones, tablet computers and emerging mobile data services, said Dipankar Raychaudhuri, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of Rutgers’ Wireless Information Network Laboratory.

There are more than four billion mobile devices in use worldwide today, and experts predict that by 2015, these wireless devices will significantly outnumber wired devices on the Internet.

NSF-funded ORBIT wireless network testbed at Rutgers WINLAB, featuring an indoor grid of 400 radio transmitters to simulate a variety of network conditions and proposed mobile services.
Credit: Carl Blesch

“The mobile Internet will do much more than support today’s impressive lineup of smart cellular phones. It will simplify people’s interactions with their physical world,” Raychaudhuri said.  For instance, he said, it will enable location-aware computing, allowing people to find nearby merchants or get driving or public transit directions, even if they don’t know their location. It also will support machine-to-machine communications, such as wearable devices that monitor your health and communicate with hospitals or cars that alert other cars to congestion and send split-second commands to each other to avert collisions.

The research team will address technical issues, such as ensuring reliable data networking in spite of variations in wireless signal quality and strength and determining how to route traffic across the burgeoning number of nodes in the Internet. It also will address security and privacy needs in both mobile and wired networks and explore how the network can best support features such as location awareness.

“The goal is to make the mobile Internet reliable, available, secure and trustworthy,” said Raychaudhuri.

Dipankar Raychaudhuri, principal investigator on Rutgers-led MobilityFirst research team
Credit: Nick Romanenko

The MobilityFirst research team is one of four chosen by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to participate in its Future Internet Architecture (FIA) program. The awards, each worth up to $8 million over three years, will enable researchers at dozens of institutions across the country to pursue new ways to build a more trustworthy and robust Internet than the current network the world has come to depend on.

Collaborating on MobilityFirst are experts in computer and communications networking and security from Rutgers, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Michigan, Duke University, University of North Carolina, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin, University of Massachusetts Lowell and University of Nebraska.

Rutgers leadership and contributions to the MobilityFirst team are based in the university’s Wireless Information Network Laboratory (WINLAB), a 20-year-old industry-university cooperative research center focused on developing the architectural and technical underpinnings for the mobile Internet. Affiliated with the university’s School of Engineering, WINLAB operates sophisticated laboratories used by more than 250 universities and corporate research groups worldwide to test new wireless capabilities and services. The crown jewel of WINLAB is its NSF-funded ORBIT wireless network testbed, featuring an indoor grid of 400 radio transmitters to simulate a variety of network conditions and proposed mobile services.

Raychaudhuri will serve as principal investigator for the MobilityFirst project and collaborate with the following site leaders: Arun Venkataramani at UMass Amherst, Z. Morley Mao at Michigan, Xaiowei Yang at Duke, Michael Reiter at North Carolina, William Lehr at MIT, Suman Banerjee at Wisconsin, Guanling Chen at UMass-Lowell and Byrav Ramamurthy at Nebraska.

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