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Nokia Bell Labs France: Communication networks of the future

Following ten years of collaboration, a shared virtual laboratory was established jointly by INRIA and Nokia in 2008 with the aim of designing communications networks capable of supporting the Internet of the future. The partnership was renewed in 2013 for a further period of four years.

Economic and scientific challenges

To increase the autonomy of networks. In other words, to automate the operation of telecommunications networks in order to manage the complexity of data streams and communications while maintaining high quality of service levels.

Research topics and projects

  • Green networking: Achieving a significant reduction in the energy consumption of future networks.
  • Content-centric networking: Design of solutions based on the content streams.
  • Network science: Modelling complex dynamic networks.
  • Security and privacy: Securing the cloud and preservation of personal data in services to individuals.
  • High manageability: Automation of fixed networks.
  • Semantic networking: Endowing a network with the capability of automatically recognising the types of application being carried by the data stream, and using this information to select the most appropriate processing in order to achieve the required quality of service.
  • Self-optimised wireless networks: The distributed optimisation of wireless networks.

Main results obtained to date:

  • Distributed algorithms for power regulation in a dynamic wavelength-division multiplexed  optical mesh network.
  • Application of Gibbs sampler theory to the a range of optimisation strategies for 3G/4G cellular networks, in particular those with small cells.  This will enable the optimisation of the ratio of the bandwidth available to customers to the power consumed.
  • Methods of classifying and processing data streams, together with the use of automatically adaptive control parameters for the routing nodes, in order to achieve greater finesse and relevance in the control of the quality of service.

What are the stakes in the collaboration between Inria and Alcatel Lucent Bell Labs France?

Meet Jean-Luc Beylat , president of Alcatel Lucent Bell Labs France.

Can you tell us about the genesis of the collaboration between Nokia and Inria?

Jean-Luc Beylat: It was my predecessor who formalized the partnership in July 2008 (and for four years), but the meeting between Inria and Alcatel Lucent ultimately followed naturally. Because of the closeness of our activities, of course, but also because of the history of our past collaborations. In fact, the research teams and particularly Olivier Audoin, the joint laboratory's operations director, and Albert Benveniste, the scientific director, had already worked on optical propagation topics in the late 1990s. The need for a greater synergy emerged when Alcatel Lucent wanted to have a more long-term view of its prospects possibly provided by the Public Research work.

What are the various intersecting interests of Nokia and Inria?

Jean-Luc Beylat: The joint laboratory is an important base that feeds an entire ecosystem of other initiatives that we have together: our joint presence on the executive board of the System@tic cluster, our joint investment in ICT Labs, the Green Touch consortium initiated by Alcatel Lucent (which Inria joined immediately), the Mobile Services Initiative brought by Inria and supported by Alcatel Lucent, and even the laboratory in the making called LINCS, which will consist of leading researchers and major industrial partners to construct the Internet of tomorrow. All these things form an ecosystem that provides direction and fuels our partnership.

What do you feel is the distinctiveness that Inria contributes?

Jean-Luc Beylat: I see several. First of all, the focus of the clearly outlined research subjects; the scope of the project is discernible, which is essential in the face of our sector's economic and industrial issues. Then there is the excellence in the research of Inria and Bell Labs. In our partnerships, we have favored the quality of the teams over quantity. Lastly, the support of Inria's management: the drive and will shown by Michel Cosnard to move our projects forward, to lead to something concrete, as well as the motivation of the teams make the collaboration more effective; we have converging objectives and interests, which is exciting for both parties.

Can you share the results of the joint laboratory?

Jean-Luc Beylat: There is successful joint production in terms of research results, publications, and patent filings. The scientific performance is therefore very satisfactory. There is also the impact on Nokia's innovation, since this joint laboratory played an important role in the definition of new mechanisms for autonomy of the optical networks that we launched this year.

What are your expectations now? Your objectives?

Jean-Luc Beylat: With telecom networks growing faster and faster, we need to contribute more and more capacity and intelligence to them; in this case, this intelligence will focus on self-testing and network automation, which can grow thanks to the algorithms developed by Inria. Our long-term vision focuses on the growth of mobile networks. Lastly, in a more forward-looking manner, we will work on the security dimension, which will have increasingly significant issues.

What are the essential topics for the future?

Jean-Luc Beylat: With the Green Touch program, Nokia has taken a strong initiative by uniting a large number of major players in our sector in order to divide network consumption by one thousand. We are convinced that the technologies need to be virtuous, as their impact will only increase in the coming years. This objective is vital for Nokia. It is part of an approach to take into account our corporate social responsibility.

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