NTT's Road to Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN)

I wrote about IOWN last year. Since then there has been a lot more news about IOWN. NTT explains IOWN as:

To create an affluent and diverse society, NTT has proposed the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) concept, which is a new communication infrastructure that can provide high-speed broadband communication and enormous computing resources by using innovative technologies including optical technologies. NTT also believes that these innovative technologies can optimize society as a whole and individuals using all types of information. We have started R&D with the aim of finalizing specifications in 2024 and realizing the concept in 2030.

The IOWN concept is aimed at transforming existing information and communication systems and realizing a new information and communication infrastructure that goes beyond the limitations of current ICT technology. It is composed of an “All-Photonics Network”, which introduces photonics-based technology to everything from networks to terminals, a “Digital Twin Computing” that realizes predictions of the future by combining the real world and the digital world, and a “Cognitive Foundation®” that connects and controls everything.

Back in November 2020, Jun Sawada, President and Chief Executive Officer, NTT gave a talk on the topic of Road to IOWN at NTT R&D Forum2020. His talk is embedded in the video below and is also available to read in NTT Technical Review here.

You may notice that NEC spoke as part of this as well. NEC is working closely with NTT Docomo on O-RAN and as a result Takashi Niino, President and CEO of NEC Corporation talked about the plan to jointly develop a wireless access network compatible with O-RAN-compliant multimedia while preparing for the fusion of photonics and electronics, namely, IOWN.

In another news, a press release from Fujitsu said:

NTT and Fujitsu announced their strategic business alliance toward the “Realization of a Sustainable Digital Society,” leveraging their respective strengths to deliver innovation that contributes to the resolution of societal and environmental challenges. The two companies envision a new, energy-efficient digital society founded on global and open collaboration with a wide range of partners supporting the IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Network) initiative.

Specifically, Fujitsu and NTT will conduct joint research and development activities toward the realization of a variety of energy efficient, sustainable technologies in areas including open architecture optical transport and mobile communications, combined with disaggregated high-performance computing, all of which are made possible by photonics-electronics convergence device innovation.

Going forward, the two companies will conduct joint research in fields that leverage their respective technological strengths of both companies, including optical technology, for which NTT and Fujitsu combined boast the world's largest number of patents, and NTT’s information and communications technologies and their operational know-how, as well as Fujitsu’s world-leading computing technologies. Specific initiatives are as follows.

1. Establishing Photonics-Electronics Convergence Manufacturing Technology

2. Promotion of Open Communication Technologies (Optical Transport and Mobile Communications)

3. Joint R&D for Low Power Consumption in High-Performance Computing (disaggregated computing infrastructure)

NTT and Fujitsu are promoting open joint research with various global partners to realize a sustainable digital society that will contribute to the vision of the IOWN initiative. NTT will create innovative smart solutions and ICT platforms that make use of the knowledge and technology cultivated through this alliance, and will strive to create an inclusive, safe, flexible, and sustainable community. On April 1, 2021, Fujitsu established the "IOWN/6G Platform Development Office" with the aim of developing technologies for the IOWN initiative and the 6G era. Research and development are now in full swing. Fujitsu aims to provide new value to a wide range of customers in areas including manufacturing, distribution, retail, and medical industries by leveraging the fruits of the alliance for solution services and platforms that benefit people's lives and society as a whole. The two companies will continue to proactively discuss further specific areas of collaboration under this alliance.

Complete press release is available here.

The IOWN Global Forum recently published System and Technology Outlook report which is available here.

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