Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Research Program

Wireless network deployment

The deployment of networks has fostered a constant research effort for decades, continuously renewed by the evolution of networking technologies. Fundamentally, the deployment problem addresses the trade-off between the cost of the network to be minimized or fitted into a budget and the features and services provided by the system, that should reach a target level or be maximized. The variety of cost models and type of features gives rise to a wide scientific field. There are several cost factors of network infrastructure: components (number and capacity), energy, man power (installation and maintenance), etc. The features of the network matter as much as the metric to evaluate them. Coverage and capacity are basic features for wireless networks on which we will focus in the following. One recurrent question is therefore: What are the optimal number and position of network components to deploy so that a given territory is covered and enough networking capacity is provided?

Traditional telecommunication infrastructures were made of dedicated components, each of them providing a given set of functions. However, recently introduced paradigms yield issues on the deployment of network functions. Indeed, the last decade saw a trend towards adding more intelligence within the network. In the case of the access network, the concept of Cloud Radio Access Network (C-RAN) emerged. In the backhaul, the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network can also benefit from virtualization techniques, as the convergence point for multiple access technologies, as imagined in the case of future 5G networks. The performance limits of a virtualized EPC remain unknown today: Is the delay introduced by this new architecture compatible with the requirements of the mobile applications? How to deploy the different network functions on generic hardware in order to maximize the quality of service?

Network component deployment. In this research direction, we address new issues of the optimal network deployment. In particular, we focus on the deployment of wireless sensor networks for environmental monitoring (e.g. atmospheric pollution). Most current air quality monitoring systems are using conventional measuring stations, equipped with multiple lab quality sensors. These systems are however massive, inflexible and expensive. An alternative – or complementary – solution is to use low-cost flexible wireless sensor networks. One of the main challenges is to introduce adequate models for the coverage of the phenomenon. Most of the state of the art considers a generic coverage formulation based on detection ranges which are not adapted to environmental sensing. For example, pollution propagation models should take into account the inherently stochastic weather conditions. An issue is to develop an adequate formulation and efficient integer linear programming (ILP) models and heuristics able to compute deployments at a relevant scale. In particular, it seems promising to adapt stochastic or robust optimization results of the operational research community in order to deals with uncertainty. Defining the quality of a coverage is also a modeling issue, which depends on the application considered. The detection of anomaly is close to a combinatorial problem. A more difficult objective is to deploy sensors in order to map the phenomenon by interpolation (or other reconstruction mechanisms). This challenge requires interdisciplinary research with fluid mechanics teams who develop numerical models of pollution propagation and practitioners like Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Regarding the network connectivity, another challenge is to integrate suitable wireless link models accounting for the deployment environment. For example, modeling the integration of sensors in urban areas is challenging due to the presence of neighboring walls and obstacles, as well as moving vehicles and pedestrians that may induce field scattering. Also, the urban constraints and characteristics need to be carefully modeled and considered. Indeed, the urban environment yields constraints or facilities on the deployment of sensor nodes and gateways, such as their embedding within street furniture. Understanding the structure of these spatial constraints is necessary to develop efficient optimization methods able to compute on large scale scenarios.

Network function deployment. In this research direction, we do not address network virtualization per se, but the algorithmic and architectural challenges that virtualization brings in both radio access and core networks. As a first challenge, we focus on the evaluation of Cloud Radio Access Network solutions. The capacity of a C-RAN architecture and the way this compares to classical RAN is still an open question. The fact that C-RAN enables cooperation between the remote radio heads (RRH) served by the same base-band units (BBU) indicates an improved performance, but at the same time the resulting cells are much larger, which goes against the current trend of increasing capacity through the deployment of small cells. We propose to study the problem both from a user and a network perspective. On the user side, we use standard information theory tools, such as multiple-access channels to model C-RAN scenarios and understand their performance. On the network side, this translates in a resource allocation problem with cooperative base stations. We will extend our previous models for non-cooperative scenarios. Regarding the core network function deployment, we are interested in the specific case of Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) networks. These networks, used for public safety services and in scenarios like post-disaster relief, present the particularity of an EPC formed by a mobile wireless network. Due to its nature, the network can not be pre-planned, and the different EPC functions need to be autonomously deployed on the available network elements. We study the EPC function deployment problem as an optimization problem, constrained by the user capacity requests. User attachment mechanisms will also be proposed, adapted to the network function distribution, the global user demand, and the source/destination of the flows. These challenges are tackled as centralized optimization problems, then extended to the context of real-time decisions. Finally, in order to complete these theoretical works based on ILP models and heuristics, experiments using OpenAir Interface are used to evaluate our proposals.