Communication devices today are becoming ever more sophisticated and diverse, delivering a plethora of new services and applications. The last hop to the end user, a person or device, is increasingly being delivered wirelessly. This sophistication brings with it complexity, making conventional approaches to organisation, implementation and regulation increasingly inadequate.
This is especially seen in the case of usage of the radio spectrum, which has manifested itself as a perceived a shortage of spectrum, but this shortage is mainly due to inadequate command and control regulation, and conventional technical understanding studies have shown up to 90% of the radio spectrum remains idle in any one geographical location.
The rapid improvements in functionality will come to an end if standard approaches to communications delivery are not radically updated. This presents a global challenge and impacts not only on device manufacture, software and firmware, but also on changes to radio regulation, business models and economics. The key to the next revolution in communications delivery is the application of distributed artificial intelligence (i.e. cognition) to the communications devices. This will enable intelligent local decisions to be made on network routing, and spectrum and resource usage, based on interaction with other devices and the local environment. Such decisions can take into account mixed systems and applications, and even devices that break the rules.
Two fields are already emerging: cognitive radio, which deals with the intelligent assignment and use of the radio spectrum; and cognitive networking, which deals with the intelligent routing of information through a network, taking into account local constraints. But this application of distributed artificial intelligence can be extended to other areas in communications that today rely on fixed-rule adaptivity, allowing for the first time, flexible changes to complex varying local circumstances.
To help realise the revolutionary change required by this global challenge, the WUN Cognitive Communications Consortium aims to bring together the important disciplines of wireless communications, distributed artificial intelligence, electromagnetics, regulatory policy and economics, and implementation.
The Consortium aims to meet two to three times a year, often co-locating meetings alongside major relevant conferences such as CROWNCOM. This is supported by other events throughout the such as local workshops, organised conferences, and visits by personnel to partner organisations under the Consortium’s Research Mobility Programme.
Funding and support in kind for the activities the Consortium’s activities comes from a variety of sources, including external research funding agencies, Worldwide Universities Network and partner organisations.