As the eyes of the world turn to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (February 25-28), Ericsson Research reveals what´s next in key areas.

Ericsson's key theme at this year's event is "Bringing The Networked Society to Life", and Ericsson Research is focusing on a number of innovative technologies that will help make this a reality.

Areas such as 5G, Big Data, the Federated Networked Cloud, OpenFlow including SDN technology and 3D Visual Communication will overcome many of the challenges, and Ericsson Research is leading the way in terms of finding out how to harness and apply them.

Technology Challenges

"To realize the networked society, both technology and society will bring challenges," says Ericsson Research’s strategy driver Tor Björn Minde.

"The societal change will bring challenges to business, government and users and we need government, academia and industry collaborations to help solve it.

"We have identified a number of technology challenges that our researchers are now busy at work on, and the results of some of their work will be demonstrated at Mobile World Congress 2013," he says.

5G for Networked Society Beyond 2020

With more and more devices joining the network, new technologies like 5G are needed to ensure that end users enjoy the optimum experience, says Göran Klang, Manager Radio Access Concepts & Performance at Ericsson Research.

"5G provides an end-user centric experience, made up of a flexible mix of multiple integrated radio access technologies that exploit the best available technology for the intended use," says Göran.

"Evolved versions of today’s 4G technologies, such as evolved LTE and HSPA, are cornerstones of 5G, complemented by more specialized technologies.

"Examples of such specialized technologies might be short-range technologies, or radio access technologies adapted to new network or spectrum paradigms. We do not believe that a single radio technology can alone fulfill the widely diverging requirements that the long-term networked society will bring."

Klang says the big issues to be addressed for the future are the number of devices and the amount of data being carried on the network.

"Key challenges for the future radio access are massive growth in the number and variation of connected devices, massive growth in traffic volumes and the wide range of requirements and characteristics they bring. There will be also new demands because of an increase in the machines that are communicating – not only humans.

Exploring Big Data

With information being described as the "oil of the 21st century", Martin Svensson at Ericsson Research is exploring how open and proprietary data can be used to create new business opportunities for service providers.

"By combining data from Twitter, Facebook and other publicly-available data assets with network information we have created something truly unique," says Martin.

"For instance, an operator can use this information to get a deeper understanding of their customers and services and expose this knowledge via third party APIs.

"The key challenges for our research are being able to handle large amounts of data, an ability to analyze it and finally to explain insights in an intuitive and easy-to-understand manner. And obviously, we can never forget about protecting people’s privacy.

Showcasing Ericsson Research At the Mobile World Congress

5G and Big Data are two of the research areas that Ericsson Research will be discussing and demonstrating at the Mobile World Congress, but there is plenty more that the company intends to share with delegates from around the world during the four-day event.

Federated Networked Cloud

Thomas Edwall, Master Researcher at Ericsson Research, is expecting big interest in the concept of the Federated Networked Cloud. A concept to automatically establish and manage distributed cloud resources (such as computation, storage and networking) within and across providers’ domains, Edwall says it will make it possible for operators to be part of interconnected clouds across the Internet.

"In the Networked Society, users accessing information and applications are mobile and they expect their computing environment to follow them," Edwall explains.

"We have worked across the industry with solutions that ensure the user’s favourite applications are responsive and perceived as being available at "arm’s length" – no matter where they are in the world."

Stanford Collaboration

Engineering Director at Ericsson Research Howard Green is looking forward to the presentation of a joint project with Stanford University called OpenFlow.

"We have collaborated with Stanford in the development of OpenFlow and its evolution towards SDN since 2008, always emphasizing the need for "carrier class" features.

"We are both active in the Open Networking Research Center, and at MWC we are presenting recent work from Ericsson Silicon Valley and Stanford researchers. This will cover topics including network debug, static reachability analysis and service chaining."

"We have worked to make networking more responsive and more integrated," he continues.

"This enables much more rapid cloud deployment, and opens up the possibility of applications being located nearer their users with distributed cloud solutions."

Another Dimension – 3D Visual Communication

Thomas Rusert, Manager Visual Technology at Ericsson Research, explains how Ericsson is working to develop and standardize 3D Visual Communication.

"We will be demonstrating a 3D video conferencing prototype that provides visual communication with a level of immersion, a feeling of 'being there’, that current video conferencing systems cannot provide," he says.

"Apart from providing a unique immersive experience, the availability of depth information can actually make it much easier for users to comprehend complex objects in a video conferencing scene. Our prototype does all this with a high-quality experience and in real-time, since it is based on Ericsson’s Visual Communication system."

Rusert says Ericsson Research is not just concerned with providing superior end-user experience; it's also seeking to develop and standardize video compression technology to reduce the bit rate requirements for high quality video services, thus reducing operational costs and increase service reach.

"We have been a main driver in the development of the recently finalized H.265/HEVC video compression standard, which compared to existing codecs cuts the bit rate requirements for video services in half. We believe the new standard will become widely deployed within few years’ time."

"Right now we are working on developing and standardizing a 3D extension to H.265/HEVC. That extension will enable high-quality 3D video services without requiring users to wear 3D glasses."

Exciting Time

It promises to be an exciting time at the Ericsson Research stand at the Mobile World Congress.

"In the networked society we believe people, knowledge, devices and information are networked for the good and the growth of society, life and business," says Tor Björn Minde.

"The Ericsson Research areas that we are talking about are future solutions to some of our technology challenges. Ericsson is leading the development and the necessary standardization work in these technologies."