A new algorithm which can be introduced into existing components could speed up the advent of the next digital revolution.

The Internet of Things and 5G mobile communications are expected to revolutionise the way we conduct our lives and businesses. However, there are some problems that need solving before the true IoT is able to makes the best use of current data networks and before 5G networks become a reality.

One advance needed is to make internet signals instantaneous for applications in future real-time services such as driverless vehicles. Shortening the signalling delay to less than one millisecond is one of the most significant technical challenges currently facing the ICT R&D community. The communications systems themselves also need to become more dynamic and responsive to traffic.

Electronic engineering experts at Bangor University propose how this could be done without the introduction of expensive equipment or networks.

Their research paper has attracted international interest from industry and now a small research consortium are to test the theory in a Welsh Government funded SMARTExpertise project. The 30-month project, which has received financial support of over £1m from the European Union via the European Regional Development Fund, will see Bangor University’s experts working alongside a key optical component manufacturer and an international optical and wireless equipment and system vendor to prove the concept in reality.

Jianming Tang, professor of electronic engineering, who is behind the new work explained, “This new technology is expected to play a promising role in enabling the imminent arrival of 5G.

“For the next digital revolution to take place, we need wireless and traditional data networks to work more flexibly together. This will save money and provide users with far more dynamic and flexible communications connections which can respond to the weight of traffic – enabling the networks to deliver high-quality connections as and when needed.

“We have developed an algorithm, or set of ways of processing signals. Introducing these into existing communications hubs will enable the signals to be ‘bundled’ for sending and ‘un-bundled’ for processing within the optical field, something not currently possible. At the moment, sending signals optically is far more efficient, but converting these optical signals has to be done electronically for signal processing. Switching between the electronic and optical fields, which may need to be done a number of times during signal transmission, is both cumbersome and time-consuming. This simplification should provide massive efficiencies in terms of speed and cost, whether internet or mobile signal traffic on any of our existing networks.”

Professor Tang’s group at Bangor University’s School of Electronic Engineering are leading experts in developing new algorithms to increase the efficiency of existing networks. Another concept developed by Professor Tang to deliver dramatically increased internet speeds and capacity has already been commercialised by Japanese company, Fujitsu.