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A worldwide communications fabric, starting right at home and at the office

We have already started to create communications fabric at home. In this image my living room where my youngest son few years ago created a fabric connecting his computer, the television screen, the ipad, his cellphone and the ADSL network gateway into a single fabric to exchange data among the various devices and with the public network. This comm fabric creation already possible at home and in an office will extend in the next decade letting individuals, companies and organisations that are not in the telco biz to create their own customised communications fabric.

Over the last 150 years communication infrastructures have become more and more pervasive to the point that most of the time people no longer take notice. One is now becoming aware of a communications infrastructure in those rare situations where … there is no communications infrastructure.
The increased processing capabilities, in networks but even more important in our hands, has enabled the use of higher and higher radio frequencies. Actually, new research projects, that are starting in Finland, Far East Asia and US are addressing the THz space, an area that is getting closer to optical communications than radio communications (1THz is 1,000 times the GSM frequency and just 380 times less than visible light frequency) and that will eventually remove any boundaries to networks capacity.
The very concept of network infrastructure will be fading away, replaced by a ubiquitous communication fabric with unbounded capacity.
What bits did to atoms, shifting value to the economy of abundance, these communications fabric will do to communications infrastructures.
This is not going to happen anytime soon, although the path is clear. However, it is of crucial importance to address these concepts because something is already happening here and now, and most importantly is affecting business and likely to steer the future of products and services.
Understanding what are the communications paradigms available and how to leverage them, understanding where 5G can make a difference and realising that 5G is not just what will be deployed by incumbent telco Operators. Something private/public entities like shops and municipalities, enterprises, not in the telecom biz but interested in local infrastructures because of their business will actually leverage and “deploy” small infrastructures able to aggregate into a communications fabric.
Indeed, in the next decade communications will no longer be something “out-there” that you have to access to ensure your product gets connected to the web or your service can be used; rather designing products and services in a certain way will make them component of a growing mesh network, constituents of a communication fabric.
The Digital Transformation course developed by EIT Digital and IEEE FDC discusses in a pragmatic way all these aspects. A module provides specific grounding to these concepts, another looks at 5G in ways that go beyond what one has heard so far about 5G because in reality 5G is not, should not be, a 4G+1, rather a completely different approach to communication, a forerunner to 6G and then 7G that will start, bottom up, designing communications fabric rather than communications infrastructures, where every object will be both a terminal and a network node.
The crucial point is that this future can be built, and will be built today by the companies and business that are embracing the Digital Transformation and for sure one doesn’t want to be left behind.
This communications fabric is discussed in a number of application areas, like healthcare, smart cities, Industry 4.0, since each of them participates in various ways to its exploitation as well as to its development. Clearly, specific and concrete examples are made on 4G and 5G, on VoLTE and Vo5G, including the related economic aspects including interviews to current and potential future players.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.