The design of low-latency wireless communication systems is a great challenge, since it requires a different focus than that which is used in current high-speed data transmission systems. "The project seeks to establish the theoretical framework necessary to describe the fundamental trade-offs in low-latency wireless communications", Tobias Koch explained. "This enables the design of novel systems that employ resources such as bandwidth and energy more efficiently."
Current wireless communication systems exchange packets of several thousand bits and include large correction codes to protect them against transmission errors. "What we do is to include additional bits to correct possible errors", Tobias Koch stated. In this way, the reliability of the system is guaranteed (what is transmitted is what is received). However, future low-latency systems will exchange information in a much quicker way - almost in real time - and, hence, exchange packets of only a few hundred of bits (a much smaller size), which requires the design of novel correction codes of a shorter length.
Put differently, it is like transporting goods in thousands of cars instead of dozens of trucks. For that purpose, it is necessary to design new correction codes that allow the cars to stay on track when there are driving mistakes. "If we have to send many packets, we can decide if we store them in a warehouse and later send all of them in a truck, or if we send the packets one by one in a car", Tobias Koch explained. With the truck, it would take longer because you would have to wait to complete the load, but its advantage is that larger and stronger security systems (correction codes) can be employed because we have more space. In contrast, transportation by car would be faster because each packet could be sent the moment that it arrives at the warehouse, but then codes must be used that are not as strong.
This simile is related to some applications for this kind of technology. In the future, vehicles will be interconnected wirelessly, inter alia, to avoid accidents. To this end, communication needs to occur in almost real time - with a delay of not more than 10 milliseconds, researchers pointed out. Furthermore, low-latency wireless communications will be used in 5G networks, and applications can be found in many industrial processes.
This project, which starts on March 1, 2017 and has a duration of five years, will receive funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement number 714161).