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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L020009/1
Title: Towards Ultimate Convergence of All Networks (TOUCAN)
Principal Investigator: Simeonidou, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Hutchison, Professor D Beach, Professor M Haas, Professor H
McLaughlin, Professor S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Bristol City Council Broadcom UK Ltd BT
Samsung Electronics UK Ltd Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK)
Department: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 11 August 2014 Ends: 31 December 2020 Value (£): 5,893,500
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Digital Signal Processing Networks & Distributed Systems
Optical Communications RF & Microwave Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications Electronics
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Mar 2014 Programme Grant Interviews (ICT) - 12 March 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Global demand for broadband communications continues to increase substantially every year. A major factor contributing to this demand is the growing number of fixed and mobile broadband users, data-hungry applications like video as well as an ever-increasing number of network-connected everyday objects and machines. It is forecast that by 2020 the number of network-connected devices will reach 1000 times the world's population while data volumes transported over networks will progressively grow to Zettabytes and upwards.

These trends pose entirely new challenges related to data volume, granularity, end-to-end connectivity and reach as well as increasing heterogeneity in network technologies (i.e. wireless and wired), networked-connected devices (i.e. sensors, mobile phones, computers, TVs, Data Centres) and services (i.e. Tbps data transfer for e-science, ultra-low latency financial transaction, real-time media streaming, kbps for sensor-based monitoring). Addressing these challenges necessitates radically new network models supporting convergence of traditionally separate network technology domains and offering high flexibility and adaptability in data granularity and throughput.

TOUCAN aims to achieve ultimate network convergence enabled by a radically new technology agnostic architecture targeting a wide range of applications and end users. This architecture will facilitate optimal interconnection of any network technology domains, networked devices and data sets with high flexibility, resource and energy efficiency, and will aim to satisfy the full range of Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) requirements.

TOUCAN will realise its goals by including the network infrastructure and its control as part of the end-to-end service delivery chain. Important enablers will be that of separating the data and control planes, which will rely on Software Defined Networking (SDN) principles. TOUCAN will drastically evolve SDN to incorporate fundamentally new technology-specific interfacing and resource description followed by infrastructure resource abstraction, virtualisation and programmability. These features will enable any network technology and device to become "TOUCAN-ready" which means that the devices are programmable and interoperable. This is the foundation upon which the technology-agnostic feature of the TOUCAN architecture will be realized; thereby ultimate seamless end-to-end convergence will be achieved.

TOUCAN will revolutionize the way we build and operate communication networks in a similar way that computer networks and more recently mobile terminals were transformed from platform-oriented to platform-agnostic solutions (e.g. through Linux and Android) and will drive towards commoditisation of network devices. Any new technology generation, regardless whether wired or wireless, will connect to the TOUCAN network in a plug-and-play fashion.

Our research will open up a new network innovation eco-system, which will allow for the first time applications to compose, deploy and program their own virtual network infrastructures, as part of the service delivery mechanism to optimally support their specific and very diverse requirements. Such an environment will be able to adapt to challenging and unpredictable infrastructure and service evolution scenarios, meeting future application requirements.

This highly challenging £12M project will bring together an Internationally renowned team of academics for a period of 5 years, allowing in depth technical exploration based on holistic and radical thinking in order to achieve the project goals. 58 person years of postdoctoral researcher time are requested for TOUCAN while the Universities have allocated a further 30 person years or more of PhD students. The TOUCAN consortium includes an impressive list of external partners who collectively are committing critical and tangible resources in excess of £3.6M.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk