By Tyrone Burke
5G is the fifth generation of cellular networks, bringing new capabilities that will create opportunities for people, businesses, and society. 5G will do much more than improve your network connection. It provides new opportunities, enabling us to deliver groundbreaking solutions that reach across society. Imagine billions of connected devices gathering and sharing information in real-time to reduce road accidents; or life-saving applications that can take flight thanks to lag-free guaranteed connections; or production lines so predictive they can prevent interruptions well before they occur. There’s no need to imagine. 5G can make this happen.
“To perform remote surgery, with a surgeon in one place and the patient in another, we must have ultra-reliable and low-latency communication,” says Dr. Rafik Goubran, a Chancellor’s Professor of Systems and Computer Engineering and Carleton’s Vice-President (Research & International).
“A surgeon needs to see what they are doing clearly, reliably, and in real-time. 5G could enable that. It will open the door to new applications in health care, autonomous vehicles, and many other fields.”
There will be a new era in telecommunications innovation, but we are not quite there yet. To bring us closer, Carleton University is partnering with Ericsson, a Stockholm-based multinational telecommunications company that has a strong research and development footprint in Ottawa.
The four-year Ericsson-Carleton University Partnership for Research and Leadership in Wireless Networks launched in February 2020. It combines an ambitious research program with strategic talent development that will position both organizations to continue their leadership in 5G.
“5G opens the possibility of solutions we haven’t even imagined yet,” says John Luszczek, a Director at Ericsson.
“When the internet started, we didn’t have applications like Netflix. They happened once broadband came in place. Now, a similar transformation is happening with 5G. We already see initial capabilities with higher speeds, but ultra-reliable, low latency communications will allow us to provide reliability for solutions like autonomous vehicles. These are the industries of the future. The technology itself is the enabler, and what we do with it will be really exciting.”
The new partnership strengthens the ties between Ericsson and Carleton. The company employs 1,500 people at its research facility in the Kanata North Business Park, and hires Carleton students as interns each year. There are a large number of Carleton graduates who work for the company, and the university’s strengths in telecommunication align well with the company’s business.
“There are professors at Carleton who are directly addressing some of the research challenges that Ericsson is dealing with. The university provides a strong set of professors and a strong curriculum,” says Luszczek.
The communications infrastructure in Carleton’s Advanced Research and Innovation in Smart Environments (ARISE) Building has been upgraded as part of the partnership. Students and researchers won’t have to leave campus to test concepts and research projects using next generation communications technologies.
“They will be working collaboratively with Ericsson to co-create solutions that will be deployed in the real world,” says Goubran.
“Our students will have leading-edge knowledge of telecommunications, and hands-on experience with equipment that will reach the market a few years from now. Working with Ericsson will help us promote Carleton’s strengths in Information and Communications Technology (ICT). We consistently rank as one of the top universities in the world for telecommunications, and this partnership will make that excellence more visible. It will reflect our strengths, and help us attract the best graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.”
The Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities annually ranks 1000 universities worldwide. In 2020, Carleton ranked 27th in the world (sixth in North America and third in Canada) for telecommunications research. This partnership will leverage that strength to probe a broad range of research challenges.
Ericsson is funding a research chair for Professor Ioannis Lambadaris, a Professor of Systems and Computer Engineering with expertise in the applied stochastic processes and control. Through a series of research projects, ten Carleton research teams will explore a diverse set of topics — from networking drone swarms to optimizing bandwidth with machine learning. Funded fellowships at the Master’s and PhD levels will help attract the best students from around the world, and their education will be designed to help them succeed in industry.
“The fellowships are a win-win-win for everybody. We will recruit talented researchers to work on these projects – the top talent locally, nationally, and internationally,” says Goubran.
“Working closely with a company like Ericsson will give our Fellows experience solving real-world problems. It is a kind of experiential learning that will be vital in delivering on the partnership’s research projects, while also benefitting the researchers themselves.”
For Ericsson, the partnership helps ensure it will have access to talented graduates who will help them tackle the technical challenges of the future.
“Recruiting talent is critical in the high-tech sector, and this is a strategic collaboration that helps us differentiate ourselves from the competition. We want people in the university ecosystem to know that Ericsson is a great place to work,” says Luszczek.“This is real-world research that addresses real-world problems. We want to be sure that we enable people to be successful in industry. Education is part of that, but education needs to be adapted to what industry needs. Ensuring that it is could be a success factor for Carleton.”