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New System Makes Household Communication Networks More Versatile

March 15, 2010

Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have developed a configuration which would improve household communication networks making them much more versatile, as a result of facilitating their functions and making them more flexible.

Household network communications is developing so quickly that it is necessary to adapt and change in order to take advantage of the new services and meet the broadband needs that they require. With this objective, a group of UC3M researchers have presented a new proposal for architecture for Residential Gateway or RGW, which is a device that connects a residential communications network with an access network from any server. This work, recently published in the journal, Computer Networks, is a pioneer in the field, according to the authors. “Other research focuses on defining which functionalities a Residential Gateway should have, while ours is aimed at facilitating the way to implement them and making them more flexible,” asserted one of its authors, Jaime García Reinoso, Professor at the UC3M Department of Telematics Engineering.

Today’s household is in permanent evolution: it is no longer unusual to have two or more devices connected to the Internet, and it is believed that within a few years, all household communication will be carried out using IP protocol, the expert predicts. That is, telephone, radio, television, and any other apparatus which needs to communicate with another, will be connected using Internet infrastructure. “This requires a device that coordinates with the rest to obtain the best performance possible and which guarantees the necessary features so that users enjoy top quality services. The RGW proposed in our article is designed for such an aim, which at the same time, frees up the users from awkward configurations since it is designed to be able to carry out all of its functions autonomously and efficiently,” the professor explained.

When we consider an ADSL router, which is one of the most used devices in households to access services such as Internet or IP television, with a RGW that router could be converted into a much more “intelligent” and versatile device, with the goal of giving more and better service to users, according to the researchers. An RGW can be considered the central point of household communications: all the communication which goes into or out of a house will pass through it, thus allowing events to be programmed depending on the interests of the owners. “We can think of a scenario in a not too distant future,” comments Professor García Reinoso, “where a friend may invite us to her home to watch a movie on her new high definition television, and when we get to her house, we see that even though the television is high definition, the contract with her IP television server is only for standard quality television. In this hypothetical case, since we have high definition television contracted, we can introduce our own data and the RGW automatically configures to receive the signal in maximum definition.”

Today Internet has several drawbacks, one of the most important being the lack of quality service: all the applications are the same for its distribution, which diminishes the quality perceived by the end- user. “For example,” the researchers explained, “when we make an IP voice call or a video conference call at the same time that we have to download a file, the quality is very poor in some cases”. There are several entities working on what are called networks of the NGN (Next Generation Networks). These NGNs focus on the service quality to offer the user the highest quality experience possible. All of this can be taken advantage of by the next generation intelligent homes, since they open a new array of possibilities for providers of new services.

Another example would be the following: We are in our home, watching television through IP when we hear a strange sound outside our door. We make a 112 emergency call on our IP telephone. With a normal residential router, that call could not be made since the television would be saturating the access but since the RGW has a module which detects emergency calls it automatically would diminish the image quality of the television signal in order to allow the emergency call to be made. “None of this would be possible with the devices which we currently have in our homes, and the most interesting thing is that any type of household today could benefit from these advances, simply by putting in a RGW as we have described in our article, since they are designed to use the advantages that the NGN’s bring with them.” This Gateway consists of a physical device which can be installed by the user himself in his home, and at a cost, when produced on a large scale, of around 100-120 Euros, according to the experts.

More information:

Title: Zero config residential gateway experiences for next generation smart homes. Author: Jaime García Reinoso, Iván Vidal, Fco. Valera y Arturo Azcorra. Magazine: Computer Networks, 53 (18): 2967-2984 – 24 diciembre de 2009. ISSN: 1389-1286

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