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PolyU and Alibaba Cloud join hands to advance signal quality estimation technology, driving dynamic networks adoption in the telecoms industry Deployed by data centres in 15 countries and regions; network capacity potentially increases by 10%

11 Apr 2024

Research & Innovation Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Developed by the research team led by Prof. Alan Lau, Professor of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of PolyU, and Alibaba Group, the signal quality estimation technology can potentially increase network capacity by 10% under the same level of reliability. Prof. Lau (right) and his PhD student Ms HE Yan in the laboratory.

Prof. Alan LAU, Professor of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), and his research team, have recently collaborated with Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, to develop signal quality estimation technology, driving the adoption of dynamic networks in the telecommunications industry.

The research team led by Prof. Alan Lau has collaborated with Alibaba Cloud’s technical team to conduct research on Alibaba Cloud’s robust cloud computing platform. By measuring the signal strength at various positions and channels on the fiber-optic network, and integrating the technologies of optics, physics and big data analytics, they have been able to provide a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of signal quality. The research outcomes help cloud service providers gain a deeper understanding of the overall state of signal transmission, enhance the stability of dynamic networks, and strengthen their ability to implement such networks effectively. Adopting PolyU’s new technology, the estimation error of signal-to-noise ratio – a measure comparing the desired and undesired signals – has been reduced from 22% to 4%. In addition, the technology can potentially increase network capacity by 10% under the same level of reliability.

The research project has secured matching funding from the Innovation and Technology Commission’s Partnership Research Programme. The technology has been extensively deployed by Alibaba Cloud in its data centres spanning 15 countries and regions, making a positive impact to the cloud provider in supporting notable e-commerce sales events, such as the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival and the upcoming 618 Mid-Year Shopping Festival.

As the demand for emerging multimedia network applications such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), metaverse, future 6G mobile network communication and high-definition live video streaming continues to surge, cloud service providers are frequently faced with ad-hoc needs for ultra-fast network connections within a short timeframe and specific range. A dramatic shift toward online shopping, exemplified by events like the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and other large-scale events or festivals has led to an increase in the demand for real-time communication within a limited timeframe, resulting in a surge in network traffic.

Prof. Alan Lau said, “While cloud service providers can keep up with traffic demand by expanding bandwidth in their fibre-optic networks, the addition or removal of bandwidth in their networks can lead to nonlinear interference, which ultimately affects the quality of existing signals. As a result, providers tend to be prudent when it comes to scaling up the implementation of dynamic networks. Therefore, it is crucial to improve the accuracy of signal quality assessment in dynamic environments.”

Dr Xie Chongjin, Senior Director and Chief Telecommunication Scientist of Infrastructure Product Unit, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, stated, “The technology developed by PolyU is easy to implement and has been applied to Alibaba Cloud’s network operation platforms deployed in 15 countries and regions worldwide. It has effectively enhanced the reliability and agility of our network, allowing us to support future network traffic demand. We look forward to further strengthening cooperation with PolyU to continue driving the innovation and advancement of telecommunication technology.”



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