First UK-India Future Networks Pilot Projects funded to support Telecommunications Roadmap

19th January 2023

The first Pilot projects to be funded by the EPSRC UK-India Future Networks Initiative have been selected to address technical, engineering and business challenges of designing and building future telecommunications infrastructure.

The UK-India Future Networks Initiative (UKI-FNI) explores advanced innovations in supply chains for hardware and software systems, providing connectivity and services for future digital networks, and a joint vision and research strategy in Beyond 5G and 6G.

Four Pilot projects costing around £50,000 each will receive  funding from the EPSRC UKI-FNI Project. These Pilot projects were all selected based on a their relevance and mapping to the objectives of the main EPSRC UK-India Future Networks Initiative. Each project involves academic researchers partnering with commercial companies or government agencies in the telecommunications sectors between the UK and India.

The UKI-FNI project is being led by Professor Gerard Parr, Chair in Telecommunications Engineering and Head of School of Computing Sciences at the University of East Anglia  in Norwich and his partners are Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli from University of Surrey, Prof Lajos Hanzo- University of Southampton and Prof Steve Hailes, University College London. Key partners in India are Prof KVS Hari from Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and Prof Subrat Kar from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.

The project has been funded by the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which is the premier source of competitive funding for University research in the UK. The project will explore new innovative solutions in hardware, software and protocols that will support the future integration of high-speed mobile systems with metro and core optical communications networks. The research and innovation will be carried out using a testbed connecting India and UK to test innovative solutions. The context for the project lies with the business drivers to increase competitiveness and choice of vendors that design, manufacture and deploy systems such as antennae, transmission and switching equipment at base stations as well as the integration components that support backhaul transport and associated network management systems.

UKI-FNI Project Lead Professor Gerard Parr commented :-

“We’re delighted to be able to support these highly innovative projects and get them off the ground. As well as developing insights into the opportunities  associated with the design and integration of future wireless, optical and satellite  telecommunications networks, they will also consider the many cyber risk and business challenges that arise with increased equipment and service diversification. The projects will also deepen our collaborations with colleagues in India and feed into the future plans for the UKI-FNI Project.”

UKI-FNI Telecommunications

Pilot Project Summaries

Digital Twin for OpenRAN Digital Twin for OpenRAN
London Digital Twin Research Centre (Middlesex University) (lead partner), Rakuten (UK) and HCL (India)
Prof. Huan X. Nguyen

Future beyond 5G and 6G wireless systems aim to support various applications with wide ranges of quality requirements, indicated by different performance indices such as throughput, latency, reliability and number of instantaneous connected devices. A system should have sufficient capacity to support the applications. Radio Access Network (RAN) architectures such as OpenRAN provide potential to orchestrate the resources required on demand. However, real-time or near real-time operation for efficient resource orchestration remains a challenging research direction. A Digital Twin (DT) is a system-of-systems which goes far beyond the traditional computer-based simulations and analysis. It is a replication of all the elements, processes, dynamics, and firmware of a physical system into a digital counterpart. This project aims to investigate the possibility of DT technology in supporting the deployment and operation of OpenRAN in Beyond 5G and 6G towards a greener network. The investigation will be on the key components, design challenges and prospects of DT in the OpenRAN architecture as well as the impact of DT on a specific use case of energy efficiency.

AI-enabled Secure Federated Deep Reinforcement Learning for Open RAN AI-enabled Secure Federated Deep Reinforcement Learning for Open RAN
Cardiff University (UK), Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (India)
Dr Neetesh Saxena- Cardiff University

The project aims to design and develop a federated deep reinforcement learning model for secure 5G network slicing, and beam selection without sharing the network and customer data to other operators (for Open RAN among cross operators). This will help telecom operators in dynamic provisioning of network resources intelligently such that these slices can be scaled up or down as desired. The work includes running two key workshops in the UK and India. Also, looping the feedback received from the workshops to the idea will improve the feasibility check on the developed models.

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) detection in 5G networks (APTd5G) Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) detection in 5G networks (APTd5G)
School of Computer Science & Electronic Engineering, University of Surrey, UK. Amity School of Engineering and Technology, Amity University Maharashtra, Mumbai, India
Dr Sotiris Moschoyiannis- University of Surrey

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are considered and are often defined as the threats that are the most challenging to detect and defend against. The APT protection market is growing rapidly – 20% per year, in contrast to the 6% growth of the rest of the cyber security sector. Meanwhile, 5G is bringing unprecedented efficiency, speed and convergence, and is expected to become the digital backbone of economy and society, from smart cities to emergency management and entertainment. However, the advent of 5G not only accentuates existing advanced threats but also introduces new ones, for which existing security mechanisms are not always directly applicable.

This pilot study has the following objectives:

  1. Identify realistic APTs in 5G networks
  2. Define APT protection requirements
  3. Provide APT detection capabilities for 5G mobile telecoms networks
Energy Efficiency Evaluation Framework for OPEN-RAN (E3FORAN) Energy Efficiency Evaluation Framework for OPEN-RAN (E3FORAN)
Indian Institute of Information Technology,Kottayam (IIIT Kottayam), India
Dr Oluwakayode Onireti - University of Glasgow

Energy efficiency is a key end-to-end requirement in all domains of Open radio access network (Open-RAN), and it’s to be addressed upfront in the design of Open-RAN solutions. The technical objectives of the E3FORAN project include 1) to develop and formulate a holistic power consumption model for Open-RAN while considering the various split options in Open-RAN, 2) to optimize the energy efficiency of Open-RAN by dynamically deactivating the network element with guaranteed quality of service (QoS) and 3) to develop artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) based optimization and automation framework to maximize the energy efficiency in Open-RAN.

Investigators from the University of Glasgow, UK, and the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Kottayam, India will work with leading open-RAN players to ensure that maximum impact arises from this program.


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