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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y036514/1
Title: Joint Open Infrastructure for Networks Research (JOINER)
Principal Investigator: Simeonidou, Professor D
Other Investigators:
McCann, Professor J Nejabati, Professor R O'Brien, Professor D
Haas, Professor H
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 December 2023 Ends: 31 March 2025 Value (£): 12,560,513
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Digital Signal Processing Networks & Distributed Systems
Optical Communications RF & Microwave Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Nov 2023 Technology Missions Fund-Value for Money Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
JOINER is a national scale experimentation platform aiming to initially support the EPSRC Future Communications Platforms and other Future Networks R&D initiatives such as DSIT and Innovate UK programs. In the longer term, it will support the wider telco ecosystem in the UK, including academia (inside and outside the Platforms), industry and SMEs. JOINER will achieve this by providing an open and federated state-of-the-art experimental platform able to support collaborative research and experimentation and test outcomes in representative network conditions and appropriate scales.

Evaluating Telecoms R&D under representative conditions is critical in order to drive impactful outcomes. There is a strong evidence for this in the UK and Internationally based on 5G trials, smart city testbeds, sector-specific adoption pilots etc. This is because telecommunications networks are inherently heterogenous and complex, supporting a multiplicity of applications and services across many different technologies and software layers over large geographies. Addressing such complexity and co-dependencies across technologies (software and hardware) is a central challenge for future networks and one key focus for 6G.

It is important to know that the new applications, the innovative technologies, the novel architectures, the algorithms and protocols that we will collaboratively create through our research in the Hubs and beyond will be fit for future networks by testing them in an environment of representative heterogeneity and scale. Experimentation and testing are becoming an important methodological approach to assess and qualify the diverse design assumptions and choices in realistic conditions. Gaining access to such environment is not possible today as most telecom research facilities are localised and disjoined, and are either (i) laboratories at Universities, Industry (e.g., Adastral Park) or specialist labs (e.g., SONIC, UKTL); or (ii) local testbeds (e.g., 5G and Open RAN testbeds, smart cities, digital health etc.).

JOINER will fill this gap by initially federating key existing research facilities mentioned above, while supporting new facilities to join over time, and create a sustainable and scalable research infrastructure for collaborative experimentation. JOINER will be a large-scale host for experimental research, development and testing with common interfaces and services to build on existing and further leverage on future R&D research capital investments in the UK. We have initially identified 12 locations to interconnect giving access to advanced and complimentary research labs and testbeds with a roadmap to upgrade connected facilities and scale to further locations if funding allows.

JOINER will offer more than the sum of the existing facilities on their own by providing scale, heterogeneity and reach, as a proxy for real-world network, and therefore increasing the credibility and impact of the experiments and accelerate the potential for translation and commercialisation of academic research. Additionally, it will give us the capability to generate large sets of data that can be shared openly to enable innovation on data-driven services and AI/ML tools, both key for the next generation mobile networks.

Furthermore, JOINER will allow to explore new research questions challenging end-to-end assumptions and developing system thinking to Future Networks research. Therefore, JOINER will be not only a key research enabler but also a research project on its own right.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk