Title: Intelligent DEnse And Long Range IoT networks
Funding agency: Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO) Strategic Basic Research (SBO)
Start date: April 1, 2017
Project duration: 4 years

The IoT domain is characterized by many applications that require low-bandwidth communications over a long range, at a low cost and at low power. This has given rise to novel ‘SIM-less’ radio technologies that try to fill in this existing market gap of low-power wide area IoT networks, often referred to as Low Power Wide Area Networks or LPWANs. Due to the use of sub-GHz radio frequencies (typically 433 or 868 MHz), a single LPWAN base station has a large coverage area, with typical transmission ranges in the order of 1 up to 50 kilometres. As a result, a single base station can support high numbers of connected devices (> 1000 per base station), allowing a broad range of new technology companies to easily enter the IoT market. Currently, several sub-GHz technologies are being promoted simultaneously, all of which use the same (limited) wireless spectrum. Notorious initiatives in this domain are LoRa, SigFox, IEEE802.15.4g and the upcoming IEEE 802.11ah (or “HaloW”) standard. However, many of these technologies are still in their infancy, and optimizations regarding a.o. quality of service, roaming, and service management are still lacking. In addition, since the amount of available spectrum is much smaller and the propagation ranges much larger, these technologies will cause interference at much larger scale, leading to severe inter-technology and inter-operator interference. If left unchecked the unlicensed sub-1GHz bands will soon be congested and unreliable. To avoid this fate, the IDEAL-IoT project will design and develop advanced, highly configurable networking components, combined with a coordination framework to uniformly manage and optimize an ecosystem of coexisting wireless sub-GHz LPWANs. More specifically, the project will investigate and develop novel & scalable networking solutions at three levels. 1. At intra-technology level, IDEAL-IoT will improve the performance of existing LPWAN networks. This objective includes (i) increasing the scalability of existing networks through the design and optimization of advanced PHY and MAC protocols for LPWAN networks; (ii) designing intelligent solutions to support real-time LPWAN traffic with latencies below 100 msec and reliability higher than 99.99%; (iii) improving energy efficiency by a factor 2 through PHY&MAC co-design. 2. At inter-technology level, IDEAL-IoT will improve the performance of coexisting LPWAN networks from different operators as well as provide coexistence between different LPWAN technologies. This objective includes: (i) reducing packet loss due to interference by 50% through interference detection, interference mitigation strategies and inter-technology LPWAN communication, negotiation and optimization; (ii) providing inter-technology roaming and multi-hop communication. 3. At management level, IDEAL-IoT will realize technology agnostic solutions for virtualized LPWAN network management and intelligence. This objective includes: (i) technology-agnostic virtualized components and light-weight APIs for real-time creation of virtualized LPWANs, on-the-fly adjustment of SLAs and dynamic installation of virtualized functionalities to control and improve interactions over LPWAN networks; (ii) the design of a cloud repository capable of optimizing LPWAN settings 10 times faster than is currently the case; (iii) realizing fully reliable over-the-air, reconfigurations and partial software updates of large groups of devices with 50% lower latency and 80% less network overhead.