communication architecture in hpyerconnected world

Living on the Tactile Edge: Communication Architecture for the Future Hyperconnected World

Written by: Mika Ylianttila, Jyrki Huusko, Ijaz Ahmad,Tanesh Kumar, 
Madhusanka Liyanage, Erkki Harjula, Jude Okwuibe

Future is here. Some call it Internet of Things (IoT), some call it Internet of Everything (IoE), some call it Tactile Internet (TI). Most importantly, whatever the current buzzword may be, we always perceive the Internet through concrete applications and services it provides to our everyday life. Due to IoT/IoE, the digital world is already facing a transition from traditional ways of delivering the services for users in novel ways of ambient communications. We are already seeing the hallmarks of future Internet, such as cloudified multimedia services provided for end-users.

For example, video content is in large degree delivered nowadays with virtualized Internet services such as Netflix, Youtube and their kind, constituting the majority of all Internet traffic. End-user merely subscribe to the service, and they do not need to worry were the content is stored and they can flexibly choose how they watch and experience the content (e.g., mobile, tv, laptop, home theatre).

In Naked Approach project we envision a world beyond the current, where the experience and user-interaction takes place with gadget-free smart environment. The way how we are using and experiencing the future services and Internet is one of the main drivers for our vision of the future hyperconnected world. Especially, the way how we are interacting with services and things surrounding us, defines the roadmap for the technology development. In the currently dominating technology trends such as IoT/IoE, we have just barely managed to find the good ways to connect things with other things, and services through Internet.

The future however is something more and it is characterized by advanced human-machine and machine-machine interactions. This new technology vision is referred as Tactile Internet and it can provide us new ways to use and experience the Internet services through for example with different kind of haptic user interfaces. This is one of the major focus areas also in Naked Approach project and work task focusing on surroundings as a service concept – providing new ways to experience the services.

From technical point of view, the Tactile Internet is characterized by the demand for extremely low latency, security and reliability. This presents new demands also for the wireless access network, which calls for high performing and low-latency 5G wireless access as one key enabler.

Concepts such as Network Functional Virtualization (NFV) and Software-defined networking (SDN) are now gradually adapted to wireless network infrastructure to enable the cloudification of the network. They enable software based centralized control, network programmability and abstraction by utilizing general purpose hardware. In order to achieve the true benefits of virtualization of network resources and services, they should be efficiently close to the end-user by realizing at the edge the network. This means that the services can be further customized and optimized for the end-users and community’s local needs and demands. It also means open interfaces for the third party developers to create their applications also for local needs.

In the becoming 5G wireless systems it is envisioned that micro-operators could serve local areas such as concert halls, sports arenas and shopping malls. This localized, “at the edge” communication network model paves the way to emergence of hyperconnected world, where the end-users consume the communication services in maybe more versatile ways than today, utilizing smart ambient environments.

From communication architecture design point of view, this development opens many interesting tradeoffs and design options, where the end-user requirements must be considered in a whole new way. One of the key questions is the allocation of computational resources, especially as one need to consider the energy-efficiency, security and privacy as given in the future systems, as well as their scalability and high end-to-end performance requirements for even growing end-user customer base.

Considering performance requirements, we can argue that the edge computing solution is one of the key technologies paving the road also for extremely delay sensitive Tactile Internet applications, especially in the local and small-cell environments. One special area of edge computing is called Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), which refers to the recent developments in the base station technologies, essential for the becoming 5G systems. MEC provides new opportunities for intelligent management of content through e.g., smart caching, but also interesting new business models enabling for example local micro-operator models.


Figure 1. Integrated architecture leveraging SDN, MEC and NFV concepts for novel mobile services.

A simple scenario integrating these novel networking technologies such as SDN, NFV and MEC is presented in Figure 1. The architecture illustrates the possibilities of run-time service deployment and service migration from clouds or data centers in urban areas or densely populated areas as the need arises. In the Naked Approach project, research teams from CWC and VTT are solving together the communication architecture challenges considering the ever growing communication needs when novel communication architectures evolve at the edge of the network. They include utilizing Nordic design to create novel user experience scenarios, and enable them with tactile edge communication architecture, which is characterized by secure, energy-efficient and virtualized software defined services.


[1] ITU Technology Watch on Tactile Internet,

[2] “Software Defined Mobile Networks (SDMN) : Beyond LTE Network Architecture” M. Liyanage, M. Ylianttila, A. Gurtov (Eds.), Wiley, 2015.

[3] “Opportunities and Challenges of Software-Defined Mobile Networks in Network Security perspective”, M. Liyanage, A. Bux Abro, M. Ylianttila, A. Gurtov, to appear in IEEE Security and Privacy, 2016.

[4] “The Quest for Privacy in Internet of Things, Solutions and Future Research Directions: A Holistic Perspective”, P. Porambage, C. Schmitt, P. Kumar, A. Gurtov, M. Ylianttila, A. Vasilakos, to appear IEEE Cloud Computing, 2016.

[5] “Lightweight and Secure Session-Key Establishment Scheme in Smart Home Environments”, P Kumar, A. Gurtov, J. Iinatti, M. Ylianttila, and M. Sain, IEEE Sensors. (2015), Vol. 16:1, pp. 254 – 264.

[6] ETSI Introduction to Mobile Edge Computing clusters/technologies/mobile-edge-computing


Mika Ylianttila is a full-time professor at the Centre for Wireless Communications (CWC), at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (ITEE). Previously he has hold several research managerial positions such as director of the Center for Internet Excellence (2012-2015) and associate director of the MediaTeam research group (2009-2011), and professor (pro tem) in Information networks (2005-2010). He is also adjunct professor in Computer Science and Engineering (since 2007). He has co-authored about 150 articles on broadband communications networks and systems, including aspects on wireless security, mobility management, distributed systems and novel applications. He has supervised 7 doctoral theses and 75 masters theses. He was a visiting researcher at Center for Wireless Information Network Studies (CWINS), Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, and Internet Real Time Lab (IRT), Columbia University, New York, USA. He is a Senior Member of IEEE, and Editor in Wireless Networks journal.