Research in Action: The Future of Vital Wireless Networks

“Future wireless networks should provide connectivity anywhere, anytime. One way to do this is to use 3D networks,” says a Lakehead researcher

Lakehead University will showcase the best of student and faculty research during Research and Innovation Week 2022, March 7-11. This week, OrilliaMatters will feature some of the faculty researchers from the university’s Orillia campus.

Dr. Waleed Ejaz, Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Lakehead University, was recently awarded a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grant for his research project titled Resource Management for Massive Connectivity in Future Wireless Networks.

Ejaz’s goal is to help make 5G and future 6G networks accessible to everyone, wherever they live in the world.

“Future wireless networks should provide connectivity anywhere, anytime. One way to achieve this is to use 3D networks. By 3D networks, I mean the integration of traditional terrestrial (Earth-based) networks and non-terrestrial networks such as wireless networks assisted by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),” he said.

“My primary focus is efficient resource management in future wireless networks, which is challenging due to the large number of devices, varying QoS requirements, and high density of heterogeneous devices – networks where the devices are made by different manufacturers or run on different operating systems,” Ejaz explained.

In the past, the primary goal was to increase data throughput in traditional wireless networks, but now we have more diverse QoS requirements for different users and devices, he said.

Another problem that Ejaz faces is the different experiences between urban and rural life.

“In urban areas, we have a high density of heterogeneous devices, but in rural areas that are not very densely populated, we don’t have high-quality connectivity, which creates a digital divide.”

COVID-19 has amplified these differences as the world has been forced online.

“Connectivity is extremely important. If people in rural areas do not have good connectivity, they will lag behind people in urban areas who have connectivity. So filling that gap is one of the goals of my project,” Ejaz said.

Over the past few years, Ejaz has been working on communication technologies as it relates to the Internet of Things (IoT).

“The main focus of my research is algorithm design, network architecture development and system level performance analysis, so how am I going to do this by proposing new 3D architectures and new algorithms that are inexpensive and don’t take a long time to deploy.”

In order to achieve its goals, Ejaz is considering different technologies to improve energy efficiency and improve coverage, including the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

“My goal is to improve coverage using the existing ground network, as well as deploying drone networks,” Ejaz explained. “There are challenges such as interference, resource optimization, as well as energy efficiency issues. We will examine autonomous 3D networks that must maintain their resource utilization through wireless power transfer and harvesting energy to maintain uninterrupted operations.

One of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 includes universal and affordable access to internet connectivity.

“In 2016, the United Nations declared the internet a basic human right. Similarly, from a Canadian perspective, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that all Canadians have basic internet connectivity from a 50 Mbps download speed and 10 Mbps upload speed,” Ejaz explained.

“But if we’re talking about rural areas, there are still communities where we don’t have that reliable connectivity. With COVID, we’ve become even more dependent on the internet,” he said.

“Everyone from education to healthcare depends on connectivity. Providing reliable connectivity everywhere will also boost the economy by embedding everyone’s ability to contribute to wealth.”

Ejaz believes his research will establish a scientific research base that will contribute to Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan by supporting world-class networks and the advancement of new technologies and services to Canadians.

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