Intelligent Optical Networks for the Future Internet

ANID Fomento Vinculación Internacional para Instituciones de Investigación Regionales FOVI210082 (Associate Researcher)
December 22, 2021 December 21, 2022

In 2016, the United Nations declared internet access is a human right, as are drinking water, electricity, housing and food. Different countries have declared different strategies to increase access to this necessary good, in search of the so-called internet universality. In Chile, one of the most centralized OECD countries, this goal is still far from being achieved, mainly affecting regions with a low percentage of bandwidth penetration in homes.

An important part of the global Internet deployment corresponds to the installation of fiber optic networks, the base technology of the world’s Internet networks, whose installation and operation cost is usually significant.

In this project, the Optical Networks Research Group (IRO), composed of researchers from Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM), Universidad de Concepción (UdeC), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV) and Universidad Adolfo Ibañez (UAI), seeks to strengthen and consolidate the collaboration that began systematically in 2020 with University College London (UCL) of the United Kingdom to develop solutions to reduce the costs of deployment and operation of optical networks, enhance the development of advanced human capital among institutions, and also encourage or facilitate the deployment of these networks in regions to improve connectivity nationwide.

The current research group is the only core group in the country that has considerable experience in this thematic area. This project strengthens, consolidates and enhances this core, whose impact not only covers the academic field but also extends to industry (technology transfer) and government (support for the development of public telecommunications policies, consultancies, etc.).

The shortcomings to be addressed in the project are, on the one hand, the non-existence or low visibility of consolidated regional research groups in innovative ICTs, and their lack of influence or impact on the definition of public policies and the search for innovative solutions to local problems. From a technical, economic and social point of view, there is a low penetration of broadband Internet connection in the regions, with high associated costs, as well as the lack of knowledge of the population about the benefits and implications of the installation of fiber optic infrastructure.

On the technical side, we are living a period of significant changes in the Internet, and strong technological advances in information technology. This project is at the crossroads of these two worlds. From the networking perspective, we will study the key technologies underpinning the communications infrastructure of the future, corresponding to advances in fiber optic networks. Regarding computing, we will work mainly with machine learning techniques, using in particular Deep Reinforcement Learning tools.

The technical problems described above are of economic, social, technical and scientific importance, and their approach - proposed in this project - can improve the entire network operation and infrastructure, and therefore the performance of the Internet. The exposed problematic opens an opportunity, in the line of decentralization and territorial development, for a significant contribution to the expansion of the global telecommunications network in our country, leading to the universality of the Internet.