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Social Impact

Only a few year ago it was not predictable the explosion of new Internet applications as Skype videocall, very important to elderly people to be connected with their relative, the massive participation to the on line interactive games, the teleworking or the smart high definition TV. All these applications make very urgent a capillary availability of wide band connections. In the case of fibre the rise of the average speed per household is continuous. Speed-test on the average European downstream speed estimated at the end of 2013 around 22Mbit/s [4]. Further, the upload traffic is increasing due to the upload of photos, videos and the diffusion of cloud storage[4].

Unfortunately, a large portion of population in areas where the fibre is not deployed for economical or geographic reason will be affected by the digital divide for a long time (10 year or more?) without the opportunity to benefit of new services and applications due to the high cost of the fibre, that is acceptable only in high density populated area. It is reasonable to forecast that only a limited area will be covered by the fibre in the next future. The trend among operators is to use wireless technology that is surely cheaper and easy to install. Further, the demand of band has already exceeded the capacity of the available technologies (up to 4 G) posing a question on the possible solutions.

The TWEETHER project aims to remove the digital divide barrier demonstrating that the novel system operating in the W-band permits to align the wireless access to the optical fibre capacity. This will open new opportunities for operators, consumers and content providers with a strong impact on the economy and the wealth of people. Broadband access has the power to spur economic growth by creating efficiency for society, businesses and consumers. Both broadband availability and transmission speed are strong drivers in an economy. Doubling the broadband speed has been estimated for an economy an increase of GDP by 0.3%, which is equivalent to $126 billion in the OECD region. This growth stems from a combination of direct, indirect and induced effects. Direct and indirect effects provide a short to medium term stimulus to the economy. The induced effect, which includes the creation of new services and businesses, is the most sustainable dimension, and could represent as much as one third of the mentioned GDP growth.

If broadband speed is increased, short-term jobs will be created to build the new infrastructure. As an induced effect over a 5 years period, new ways of doing business are established, more advanced online services and new utility services are initiated. Indirect effects, such as spillovers to other industrial sectors, are initiated on a longer time scale, 10 to 20 years, and result in an efficiency improvement of the economy.

Connectivity and broadband are just a starting point for new ways of innovating, collaborating and socializing. New mass markets will be created. For example, in health care alone it is expected that 500 million people will use mobile applications. In addition IoT (internet of things) will extend and multiply connections between objects of mass use (e.g. connected car and appliances) and of industrial infrastructure (Industry 4.0) reaching billions of additional connections. With speed requirements steadily increasing, W-band communication is mandatory for delivering broadband services to end users everywhere.  W-band communication technology is the key enabler for a future-proof way of living, allowing home working and learning, e-health and e-government, and other e-services and last mile complement of the fibre. TWEETHER define the future wireless network architecture for cell backhaul and access applications, leveraging the W-band.

The steadily rising cost of energy and the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions have resulted in energy becoming one of the primary technological challenges of our time. ICT in general, are expected to play a major role in the reduction of the worldwide energy requirements. Indeed, recent studies show that ICT is today responsible for about 4% of the world energy consumption, a percentage expected to double over the next decade. The achievable level of energy efficiency will be very much dependent on the specific architectural approaches that are adopted, on the technology choices that are made, and on the use of suitable planning/routing algorithms and service provisioning schemes. In this context, it is also important to design and operate millimetre wave networks taking full consideration of the details of the services and applications that they will support, as well as the end devices they will interconnect.

Attempts to match the characteristics of currently popular applications, such as PtP, grid or cloud services, to the underlying W-band network infrastructure can further enhance energy savings for operators, service providers and users. On the other hand, TWEETHER will contribute to the development of better technologies for energy-related issues by providing optimized solutions in terms of spectrum use and power efficiency (low power radiated and low-power MMICs).

[4]  Graham Finnie, Chief Analyst Heavy Reading, European FTTH Forecast, 2013-2018, Presentation to the FTTH Council Europe Conference.