By 2020 nearly six billion wireless devices in Europe, around a quarter of the global total, will be connected and served by different types of mobile networks delivering a variety of applications and services. In order to meet the expected exponential traffic and usage growth, mobile networks are evolving towards 5G, which becomes heterogeneous and highly complex. The exponential growth of mobile traffic, drastically increasing of network complexity, and the strong need for inter- network coordination of wireless network resources call for breakthroughs in control, coordination and flexible spectrum management in 5G heterogeneous radio access networks.
The COHERENT (Coordinated control and spectrum management for 5G Heterogeneous Radio Access Networks) project aims to address these problems by researching, developing and validating a novel control framework for 5G mobile networks. The key innovation of COHERENT is to develop a unified programmable control framework to coordinate the underlying heterogeneous mobile networks as a whole. The COHERENT control framework has two unique features to deal with the insufficiency of current control solutions for inter-network coordination. First, theories and methods to abstract the low-layer network states and behaviours of different underlying mobile networks will be developed, which provides a simplified but sufficient abstracted network view for advanced control and resource coordination. Network abstraction will significantly reduce the signalling overhead, enable more flexible spectrum management, and make scalable control solutions among heterogeneous radio access networks feasible. These are key factors for the success of 5G networks. Second, based on the abstracted network view, common control interfaces and software-development kits will be developed to enable programmability in controlling and coordinating heterogeneous radio access networks. The programmable control will provide operators a flexible and cost-efficient way to implement new control functions and thus to support new services. A scalable and programmable control framework for heterogeneous radio access networks paves the way for open innovation in future mobile networks.
The innovative impact of the COHERENT project is in enabling a unified control and coordination framework for heterogeneous radio access networks by combining innovative approaches on abstraction of low layers in underlying mobile networks, software defined networking, and flexible spectrum management. COHERENT will build a true proof-of-concept prototype to demonstrate the applicability and benefits of its approach in a set of use-cases driven by the end-users, carriers, and equipment vendors in the consortium. This will ensure that the tools developed within the project are deployable by the carriers in an incremental fashion and can actually lay down the foundations for 5G and beyond mobile networks.