Wireless networks

Scientific Director: Joerg Widmer

Given the scarcity of wireless spectrum resources and the rising demand for mobile applications, optimizing wireless communication and improving wireless network architectures is currently one of the most important and challenging research topics in networking. The proliferation of inexpensive, high-rate mobile devices and ubiquitous connectivity opens up a vast spectrum of possible new services but also poses unique challenges concerning scalability, interference and the unpredictability of the wireless medium.

Search of solutions

IMDEA Networks is involved in a number of different wireless research areas. We are investigating emerging wireless technologies such as extremely high frequency communication for 5G and wireless LAN and Visible Light Communication, which promise to increase wireless data rates by an order of magnitude or more. Our work on capacity improvements aslo focuses on topics such as ultra-dense networks, intelligent interference management, cooperative coding and network coding, improved medium access control mechanisms that make use of advanced physical layer technologies such as MIMO, successive interference cancellation, etc.

Real environments

At the same time, mobile network architectures need to support these new technologies as well as new use cases, and thus become more flexible. We perform research on network architectures for 5G and beyond, specifically focusing on software-defined networks (SDN)-based architectures and network function virtualization (NFV). In addition, wireless networks are becoming more heterogeneous as they are gaining traction in more diverse use cases such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and intermittently connected or delay-tolerant networks, unmanned aerial vehicular networks and underwater networks. The research activities span medium access control (MAC), routing, error control and transport protocols, both as standalone entities and as part of cross-layer design frameworks. To improve the flexibility and programmability of future wireless technologies, we also explore novel programmable interfaces that expose low-level operations to foster network evolution and enable performance optimization and service customization. For a number of the above use case scenarios, efficient and accurate device localization is highly useful.

We recognize the importance of bridging the gap between theoretic results and applied wireless research and have deployed a range of wireless testbeds (for mm-wave, visible light communication, 5G, IEEE 802.11, and others) on which we implement and evaluate our ideas.


This research area targets the following objectives:

Increasing wireless network capacity

  • Millimeter wave networking and visible light communication networks to support very wideband ultra-high speed communication
  • Extremely dense networks, small cells, and wireless backhauling
  • Interference management, opportunistic scheduling, adaptive coding and modulation, and traffic offloading

Improving mobile network architectures

  • Software defined networking (SDN) for mobile networks, wireless virtualization
  • Network function virtualization (NFV), NFV layered architectures, interoperability of NFV solutions, and NFV infrastructure federation
  • Energy-efficient, robust, fair and high-throughput communication protocols for SDN/SDR-based cellular networks, context-aware services, and cloud-based data centers.
  • Cloud RAN concepts, with flexible split of the radio access

Supporting heterogeneous wireless networks

  • Mobile indoor localization for network optimization as well as location based services
  • Support of vehicular and aerial networks, as well as intermittently connected networks, delay-tolerant networks and underwater networks
  • Collaborative wideband spectrum monitoring

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