Optical Wireless Superhighways: FREE

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Researchers from TU Delft , TU/Eindhoven, Univerity of Twente, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Leiden University will be working with 15 partners to create reliable and secure wireless broadband connections using light instead of radio waves. Expectation is that in this way you can send and process digital data at high speeds, with minimum delays and in a secure manner. The consortium will receive € 4.1 million for this research from the NWO Perspectief program.

Information is the oxygen of our current digital society. The amount of data and its use has therefore increased exponentially over the past 50 years. However, traditional technologies for disseminating data, from Wi-Fi in the home to communication between satellites, have reached or will soon reach their capacity limits. The need is growing for a new and unifying paradigm for wireless connectivity. In the FREE consortium, 21 partners are working together on new solutions in which light instead of radio waves (on which, for example, the 5G network is based) is used to create reliable and secure wireless broadband connections.

The consortium will develop technology for a “network of networks” that seamlessly integrates satellite communications into ground based networks to provide satellite-to-satellite Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN). This simpler integration between terrestrial and satellite networks offers new possibilities for the Internet of Things (IOT), but also for better weather forecasts, for example. Using the vast available bandwidth, inherent security, limited latency and license-free operation, the consortium foresees a 10- to 100-fold increase in wireless connectivity.

The composition of the consortium encompasses all significant players who are essential to arrive at usable solutions in practice. To create a new paradigm for wireless communication that can be used safely and efficiently anytime, anywhere, the academic team within the FREE consortium works together with companies from, for example, the aerospace industry and the high-end technology industry. The collaboration between the universities brings together different worlds, from satellites in space to users at home.

Program Leader: Prof. dr. E. Gill (Technische Universiteit Delft)  Co-Lead: Prof A.Koonen TU/e

Industrial Partners: Airbus DS, Aircision, Demcon, Effect Photonics, Flexible, Hyperion Technologies, ISIS, Lionix, NLR, Phix, Quix, Signify, Single Quantum, S&T, VTEC

Academic Partners:Technische Universiteit Delft, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, TNO, Universiteit Leiden, Universiteit Twente, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,

Supported by DOC: since the initiation of the proposal early 2019 the DOC team has been involved in coordination of the proposal writing, finding the partners, maximizing the level of cooperation, and implementation of the NWO-approach of “output-outcome-impact”: scientific output of the research has to lead to industrial products (outcome) and significant positive impact on societal and economic challenges.

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