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New mobile network could eliminate the 'fi' from sci-fi

If mobile HD streaming becomes a reality any time soon, you'll probably have Dr Jose Alcaraz-Calero and Dr Qi Wang to thank.

The two researchers from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) are researching something they call SELFNET, an advanced type of mobile network that can do a lot of cool things, like allow for mobile HD streaming, elimination of signal blackspots in rural areas, and even eliminate network overload we usually experience on highly-attended events like football matches or concerts.

Dr Alcaraz-Calero said: “Put simply, SELFNET will allow 5G networks to make possible things that would have been considered science fiction just a few years ago. Unprecedented reliability and stability will transform the way we think about mobile networks. For example, the ‘self-healing’ part of the network will ensure stable connectivity even when on the move – making driverless cars a realistic mainstream possibility.”

“Improved bandwidth and reliability means digital-health, including mobile surgery, becomes viable, potentially dramatically improving the delivery of healthcare to remote areas.”

The network would be 'smart', in a way – it would basically be able to anticipate a spike in demand (for example, at a stadium with 40,000 people), and allocate more bandwidth in order to compensate for the higher demand.

On the other hand, it would also be able to spot DDoS attacks and shut down suspicious connections before they have a chance to cause damage.

Dr Wang said: “We are tremendously excited by the potential SELFNET and 5G can offer, not just for users, but for the development of new technologies that are impossible with our current infrastructure. Substantially reduced networking costs and a much quicker process to unroll new services means we can only imagine the potential applications this new network could deliver, but our core consideration at this stage is delivering a vastly improved user experience that takes us into the next generation of mobile services.”