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Toward Open, Programmable, and Intelligent Cellular Networks

ECE Seminar

Location: EER 3.646
Michele Polese
Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things, Northeastern University, Boston

In this talk, I will discuss how openness, programmability, and intelligence (key components of the Open Radio Access Network, or Open RAN, vision) can restart the innovation cycle in mobile networks. Despite the many advances brought by 5G, there is a significant and growing gap between research and actual products and deployments in the field. While this is partly motivated by business and market factors, there are also technical reasons that prevent rapid innovation in the mobile space, exacerbating the economic drivers. These include an inflexible RAN that is difficult to deploy, adapt, upgrade and secure; manual control and tuning, which leads to a gap between theoretical capabilities and practical applications; and the limited automation in cellular network management. 

I will highlight the transformative potential of designing and deploying novel cellular architectures, moving from conventional networks to open, programmable, and intelligent systems. This promises to make 6G networks more agile, cost-effective, energy-efficient, resilient, and ultimately successful. I will introduce trends and developments in cellular networks from a systems-level perspective, and present recent results from my research on (i) data-driven optimization and automation of open cellular networks, (ii) agile spectrum and infrastructure sharing, and (iii) experimental platforms and prototypes for wireless systems. I will also discuss how Open RAN opens pathways to transition research into network deployments, based on experiences with standardization and commercialization, and interactions with the broader wireless industry.


Michele Polese is a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things, Northeastern University, Boston, since October 2023. He received his Ph.D. at the Department of Information Engineering of the University of Padova in 2020. He then joined Northeastern University as a research scientist and part-time lecturer in 2020. During his Ph.D., he visited New York University (NYU), AT&T Labs in Bedminster, NJ, and Northeastern University.

His research interests are in the design and testing of next-generation wireless networks, 5G/6G, and Open RAN, in open, intelligent, and programmable end-to-end network architectures, and in open-source networking software and experimental wireless testbeds. He has contributed to O-RAN technical specifications and submitted responses to multiple FCC and NTIA notices of inquiry and requests for comments, and is a member of the Committee on Radio Frequency Allocations of the American Meteorological Society. He is PI and co-PI in research projects on 6G funded by the O-RAN ALLIANCE and the U.S. NSF, OUSD, and NTIA, and was awarded with several best paper awards and the 2022 Mario Gerla Award for Research in Computer Science. Michele served as TPC co-chair for WONS 2024, ACM WiNTECH 2023, WNS3 2021-2022, as an Associate Technical Editor for the IEEE Communications Magazine, as a Guest Editor in an IEEE JSAC Special Issue on Open RAN, and has organized the Open 5G Forum in Fall 2021 and the NextGenRAN workshop at Globecom 2022.