Workshop on Connecting the Un/Under-connected (CTU) in 5G and B5G Networks

Submit a paper – deadline 15 September

Length of the special session: Full Day

Name(s) of special session organizer(s): Dr. Sudhir Dixit, Dr. Ashutosh Dutta, Dr. Vimal Bhatia

Email of main contact person: sudhir.dixit@ieee.org

Biography of workshop organizer(s):

Sudhir Dixit (sudhir.dixit@ieee.org) is a Co-Founder, Senior Fellow and Evangelist at the Basic Internet Foundation in Oslo, Norway, and heads its US operations. He is also a Docent at the University of Oulu, and is associated with the Academy of Finland Flagship Program, 6GFlagship, led by the Centre for Wireless Communications, University of Oulu, Finland. From 2015 to 2017 he was the CEO and Co-Founder of a start-up, Skydoot, Inc. From 2009 to 2015, he was a Distinguished Chief Technologist and CTO of the Communications and Media Services for the Americas Region of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services in Palo Alto, CA, and the Director of Hewlett-Packard Labs India in Palo Alto and Bangalore. Before joining HP, he held various leadership positions at BlackBerry, Nokia, NSN and Verizon Communications. Sudhir holds a Ph.D from the University of Strathclyde, UK and an M.B.A. from Florida Institute of Technology. Florida. Sudhir is a Life Fellow of IEEE, IET and IETE.

Ashutosh Dutta (ad37@caa.columbia.edu) is currently Senior Wireless Research Scientist, JHU/APL Sabbatical Fellow at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Labs (JHU/APL), and adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University, USA. Ashutosh also serves as chair for Electrical and Computer Engineering for JHU’s Engineering for Professional Program. His career, spanning more than 30 years, includes Director of Technology Security and Lead Member of Technical Staff at AT&T, CTO of Wireless at a Cybersecurity company NIKSUN, Inc., Senior Scientist in Telcordia Research, Director of Central Research Facility at Columbia University, adjunct faculty at NJIT, and Computer Engineer with TATA Motors. Ashutosh obtained his BS in Electrical Engineering from NIT Rourkela, India, MS in Computer Science from NJIT, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, New York. Ashutosh is a Fellow of IEEE.

Vimal Bhatia (vbhatia@iiti.ac.in) is currently working as a Professor at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Indore, and adjunct faculty at IIT Delhi and IIIT Delhi in India. He received his Ph.D. degree from Institute for Digital Communications at The University of Edinburgh, UK in 2005. During Ph.D. studies he also received IEE fellowship for collaborative research at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. He has authored/co-authored more than 240 peer
reviewed journals and conferences and has filed 12 patents. Prior to joining IIT Indore, he has worked for various industries in both India and the UK including C-DoT, Hughes Software Systems, Digital Theatre Systems Inc, AmberFin, Audiosoft and Openwave Mobility. His research focuses on optical communication networks, wireless communications, signal processing and in software product developments. Vimal holds IEEE membership for past 24 years and is currently a Senior Member IEEE.

Description and scope
There are numerous projects and initiatives ongoing around the world, but these are fragmented and lack the critical mass and coordination to be able to impact the future standards, product development, and cost of deployment otherwise achievable by volume. The workshop would discuss the challenges, solutions, and potential for collaboration opportunities to influence the network service providers, manufacturers and the governments around the world while leveraging the ongoing work of the CTU working group in the IEEE Future Networks Initiative.
While technologies are available today, they need to be customized and optimized at the systems level to bring down the cost of network in order to be affordable. In addition, the content needs to be relevant and in local languages to be of useful, not to mention the need to offer innovative human-computer interaction (HCI) solutions (that are not text based) so that people who are not literate or digitally savvy can easily use the devices and consume services. Another important requirement is that of flexible spectrum allocation regime at the lower range of the spectrum to increase reach and coverage. Use of renewable energy sources will enable deployment in remote areas where there is lack of power grid or it is intermittent. In short, this workshop will highlight a number of technology gaps that should be addressed in 5G and B5G networks, such that access is affordable and content and services are actually consumed by the target set of users. Technology aside, need to develop innovative business models is a must so that the solutions are commercially sustainable in the long-term. A number of such models, especially designed for the rural population, will be discussed, such as Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE), Freemium (Free + Premium), revenue sharing among the cascade of service providers, subsidized billing by USOF (Universal Service Obligation Funds). The scope of the workshop will span new research, relevant use cases, testbed implementations, regulatory challenges, commercial rollouts and business models. Finally, the workshop aims to summarize the state-of-the-art from today to 3 years, 5 years and 10 years.
The workshop aims to bring researchers/experts around the world together to explore and discuss the state-of-the-art research and local initiatives in the areas mentioned above. The workshop will include peer-reviewed papers, invited speakers and those selected from the open call to join as speakers in panels.

Importance and timeliness
Every next generation of wireless standard only increases the digital divide, and the focus is only at the high end of performance for the developed and urban populations around the world. Connecting the Unconnected or under-connected (CTU) is the holy grail of transforming the lives of over 3 billion people around the globe with wireless Internet who are yet to experience its value in multiple ways. If this could be accomplished, its impact on the society would be enormous. This workshop would highlight the need to consider the CTU requirements in 5G and B5G networks in the standardization process, in the development of the use cases, and affordable solutions. In its Vision 2030 SDG (Sustainability Development Goals) the United Nations has proclaimed access to Internet as basic human right and has said that these goals cannot be achieved without affordable access to Internet by everyone on this planet. This workshop intends to bring to light the needs of the half of the world’s population and therefore this topic is of immense importance to IEEE, which prides itself on working on “technologies for humanity”.
Planned format of the special session including projected number of referred papers and hot topic sessions
The workshop would be a full day event consisting of an opening plenary session of keynote talks followed by two technical sessions of accepted papers prior to lunch. Each session would start with an invited speaker. The afternoon will consist of two panels and two technical sessions, each session again starting with a talk by an invited speaker. We anticipate accepting 16 refereed papers which would be accommodated in 4 hot topic sessions. The panels would have themes derived from industry and/or regulatory considerations.
Potential participants including program committee members and invited speakers
There is a renewed interest around the world and realization that the nations and societies cannot flourish without bridging the digital divide. The research community has seen initial work and mentions the connecting the un/under-connected in later versions of 5G. However, for 6G the research community is already upbeat and is proposing to work towards solutions for the un/under-connected from the very beginning and make amendments and recommendations for digital inclusion. We are already seeing numerous white papers, magazine, journals and tutorials coming in this area. For instance, a white paper coordinated by the 6G Flagship program University of Oulu saw 32 researchers from across the world join hands to come up with a single document. Additionally, industry is also coming up with many products and solutions from major telecommunication and technology players including Ericsson, Huawei, Vodafone, Altaeros, , Nokia, GenCell, PowiDian, to name a few in a recent report by GSMA, UKaId and ABI research. This is in addition to the Google, Facebook, and Microsoft’s initiatives to connect the un/under-connected. Thus, we believe that the proposed workshop would attract many attendees.

Potential TPC members
Sandeep Agrawal, Daniel Altanirano, Marvin Arias Olivas, Vimal Bhatia, Pranav Jha, Matogoro Jabhera, Amit Karna, Sanjram Khanganba, Catherine Kimambo, Roman Lara Cueva, Nelson Wasilwa, Harri Saarnisaari, Abdelaali Chaoub, Brejesh Lall, Nan Zang, Luciano Mendes, Adrian Kliks, Amit Singhal, Marco Giordani, Sirpa Aalto, Muhammad Imran Asghar, Hendrik Berndt, Yan Chen, Risto Jurva, Pasi Karppinen, Markku Kekkonen, Marianne Kinnula, Panagiotis Kostakos, Johanna Lindberg, Edward Mutafungwa, Elina Rossi, Seppo Yrjölä, Anssi Öörni, Petri Ahokangas, Muhammad-Zeeshan Asghar, Fan Chen, Netta Iivari, Marcos Katz, Atte Kinnula, Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, Ian Oppermann, Ella Peltonen, Volker Ziegler.

Potential invited speakers
Prof. Josef Noll (University of Oslo), Prof. Matti Latva-aho (University of Oulu), Dr. Raj Bansal (Nokia), Dr. Julius Kusuma (Facebook), Prof. Robert Stewart (University of Strathclyde), Dr. Thyaga Nandagopal, NSF, Dr. Monisha Ghosh, CTO, FCC. Dr. Rob Fish, IEEE-SA.
Why will the workshop attract a significant number of submissions of good quality?
The proposed topic is gaining a lot visibility around the world with the push coming from the IEEE, ITU, ETSI, GSMA, United Nations, World Bank and several of the big Internet companies. There are numerous projects and initiatives in various countries as well who will
be keen to present their research, testbeds and commercialization activities. IEEE Future Networks Initiative has a working group dedicated to this specific topic as part of its INGR roadmap and is developing white paper.

Related topics

  • Challenges of rural connectivity
  • Drivers and motivation to providing affordable connectivity and useful services
  • Killer application use cases
  • Requirements and gaps
  • Standards activities
  • Spectrum allocation
  • Backhaul and access technologies
  • Can 5G and B5G be the game changer?
  • Systems architectures
  • IoT and machine learning for rural markets
  • Regulatory and business issues and models
  • Cloud computing, edge computing/catching for rural deployment scenarios
  • Content generation and management
  • Human-computer interaction
  • User capacity building
  • Pilots, testbeds and laboratory demonstrators

Prior history on past editions of the special session, if any, including the number of submitted and accepted papers, the number of attendees, etc. This will be the first workshop based on paper review at 5G World Forum proposed by the organizers. We had organized a half-day workshop at IEEE Globecom 2019 in Hawaii, based on invited talks which was a great success. https://globecom2019.ieee globecom.org/program/industry-program/industry-workshopsforums. We had also planned for a similar invited speaker workshop for 6G Summit in 2020, but this was canceled due to COVID-19.
We are not aware of any other workshops and conferences since this is an offbeat topic and area than mainstream urban connectivity driven workshops and conferences. There are usually none or very few conferences and workshops on the topic. However, with the introduction of NSF’s Rural Connectivity project and various sponsored projects around the world for rural connectivity, this topic is going to get more popular. Various research groups around the world have started building testbeds and prototypes to provide broadband connectivity in the rural environment. IEEE Standards Association has also started working on creating standards around broadband connectivity for rural and unconnected community.

Draft Call for Papers
Connecting the Un/Under-connected (CTU): the Role of 5G and B5G Technologies (Supported by IEEE Future Networks)
Connecting the Unconnected or under-connected (CTU) is the holy grail of transforming the lives of over 3 billion people around the globe, with wireless Internet who are yet to
experience its value in multiple ways. If this could be accomplished, its impact on the society would be enormous. This workshop would highlight the need to consider the CTU requirements in 5G and B5G networks in the standardization process, in the development of the use cases, and affordable solutions. In its Vision 2030 SDG (Sustainability Development Goals) the United Nations has proclaimed access to Internet as basic human right and has said that these goals cannot be achieved without affordable access to Internet by everyone on this planet. While there are numerous projects and initiatives ongoing around the world, but these are fragmented and lack the critical mass and coordination to be able to impact the future standards, product development, and cost of deployment otherwise achievable by volume. In the context of 5G and B5G networks, the workshop would discuss the challenges, solutions, and potential for collaboration opportunities to influence the network service providers, manufacturers and the governments around the world.
The proposed workshop is a full-day workshop that will take place during IEEE 5G World Forum. The workshop aims to bring researchers/experts around the world together to explore and discuss the state-of-the-art research and local initiatives in the areas mentioned above. Accepted and presented technical papers will be published in the IEEE 5G World Forum Conference Proceedings and submitted to IEEE Xplore®. The workshop will include invited speakers and those selected from the open call to join as speakers. Topics of interest include, but not limited to:

  • Challenges of remote and rural connectivity
  • Drivers and motivation to providing affordable connectivity and useful services
  • Killer application use cases
  • Requirements and gaps
  • Standards activities
  • Spectrum allocation
  • Backhaul and access technologies
  • Can 5G and B5G be the game changer?
  • Systems architectures
  • IoT and machine learning for remote-rural markets
  • Regulatory and business issues and models
  • Cloud computing, edge computing/catching for rural deployment scenarios
  • Content generation and management
  • Human-computer interaction
  • User capacity building
  • Off grid/self-powered communications
  • Energy efficient communication
  • Blockchain related to remote-rural connectivity

Important Dates:
Paper submission: September 15, 2021
Acceptance notification: September 15, 2021
Camera ready: September 22, 2021

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