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NTT R&D is envisaging the arrival of new smart societies that are not yet possible with today's internet, with features such as mobility as a service (MaaS) for extreme failsafe systems and entertainment services offering deep immersion. To realize such smart societies, we will require innovation that cannot be achieved merely by extending the trajectory of current technologies; we will need to realize ultralow power consumption, high-speed signal processing, and the fusion of virtual worlds that can equal or surpass reality with sophisticated prediction technologies. NTT Group has proposed the "Innovative Optical and Wireless Network" (IOWN) concept to realize new smart societies, and we are making a committed effort to realize this concept.

What's IOWN?

IOWN is a concept for realizing new smart societies that are not yet possible with today's internet.

IOWN comprises three main technology components: "allphotonics network" that uses optical processing on not only networks but also device processing; "digital twin computing" that enables high-speed, realtime interaction between things and people in cyberspace; and Cognitive Foundation®, in which these and various other ICT resources are efficiently managed.

The all-photonics network incorporates new optical technologies at every level, from networks to devices, and even inside chips, to enable ultralow power consumption, ultrahigh speed processing that has not been possible until now.

By allocating different wavelengths to different functions in a single optical fiber, it becomes possible to provide multiple functions that support social infrastructure without mutual interference, including information communication functions such as internet and sensing functions.

NTT Group aims to solve social issues by aiding the shift from electronics into the world of photonics. Digital twin computing is a significant advance in existing digital twin technology. By performing calculations such as conversions, combinations, and replications for various digital twins representing things and people in the real world, and having those digital twins interact, this new paradigm allows for free interactions between people and things to be recreated and tested. This can be used to build virtual societies at a level of precision that has never been achieved before, enabling us to run predictions and testing on large-scale, highly accurate futures, and to provide high-level communications offering new value. The technology is expected to solve various social problems around the world and lead to the creation of innovative new services. IOWN is set to change our world in new and exciting ways. NTT has released a concrete technology roadmap for the development of its "Innovative Optical and Wireless Network" (IOWN) concept, and research and development are moving forward based on this roadmap. Starting in 2021, NTT will establish reference models for key IOWN constitute technologies, promote these to the IOWN Global Forum, accelerate examinations, and develop specifications. Specifically, four technological directions have been defined in the IOWN Global Forum whitepaper--full-stack communication acceleration; data-centric communication and computing; computing scaling across device, edge, and center cloud; and sustainable growth with energy efficiency. R&D projects are being advanced in accordance with these themes.

IOWN Global Forum, Inc., which was established together with Intel Corporation of the United States and Sony Corporation of Japan in January 2020, released a white paper describing four technological directions in April 2020. We have since commenced technological evaluations of these directions. As of September 10, 2020, the IOWN Global Forum, which is operated by IOWN Global Forum, Inc., had 29 member companies, including its three founders and 26 other companies from Japan and overseas. The first meeting of members of this forum was held in the form of an online conference in September. This meeting served as an opportunity for member companies from around the world to engage with each other and discuss use cases and technologies in working groups.

Going forward, NTT will continue to work with partners from various industries and regions with the aim of quickly making the IOWN concept a reality.

IOWN Global Forum

Research and Development for Realizing the IOWN Concept

4D Digital Platform Integrates Various Sensing Data in Real-Time and Enabling Future Predictions

In recent years, the remarkable advancement in IT technology enables the collection of large volume of IoT data and their analysis.

Accordingly, the government of Japan as well as various companies are moving ahead with research and development for creating systems that merge cyber and physical spaces in a sophisticated manner, as advocated in the government's Society 5.0 vision.

However, in the linkage of sets of statistical data or the matching of misaligned position and time data, there are cases in which the accuracy of future predictions cannot be heightened.

Our proposed 4D digital platform would resolve this by making it possible to precisely integrate position and time information from sensing data while also providing latitude, longitude, height and time data useful in future predictions.

By applying this platform to various industries, we could contribute to the resolution of social issues and the creation of value.

The 4D digital platform integrates sensing data with highly precise position and time information in real-time into the Advanced Geospatial Information Database, jointly developed with ZENRIN Co., Ltd. to perform high-speed analyses and the construction of future prediction.

  1. Development of the Advanced Geospatial Information Database as a control point for sensing data
  2. Real-time sensing data collection with highly accurate position and time information
  3. High-speed processing of large-volume data and future predictions with various simulations

By combining with various IoT data and industry platforms, it can offer various values such as increasing smoothness of road traffic flow, improving ease of use of urban assets, and enabling cooperative maintenance of social infrastructures.

As a cross-industry platform supporting people's lives, and as the one of the key elements of Digital Twin Computing, a part of NTT's IOWN initiative, we intend to leverage NTT R&D and NTT Group technologies and assets toward sequential commercialization beginning in FY2021, with future expansion through ongoing R&D efforts.

Experimental Demonstration of Ultra-High Precision Optical Frequency Transfer via 240-km-Long Telecommunications Fiber

NTT, the University of Tokyo, RIKEN and NTT East have demonstrated experiments of ultra-high precision optical frequency transfer among multiple offices using a commercial optical fiber network over 200 km. This result shows that the optical frequency of optical lattice clock, which is one of the most accurate atomic clocks in the world invented by Professor Hidetoshi Katori of the University of Tokyo, can be distributed in the range of 200 km.

The technical point of this result is an optical frequency repeater that incorporates a quartz-based planar lightwave circuit (PLC).

The optical frequency transmitted through the fiber suffers various noises due to temperature changes and vibrations. The repeater reproduces the received light and sends a part of the light to the previous office, where the returned light is used to detect and compensate the fiber noise. We have developed ultra-low noise optical interferometers manufactured on a small PLC chip, which can realize fiber transmission with minimal deterioration. In the future, we are planning to develop a new infrastructure such as "elevation difference measurement using relativistic effect (relativistic geodesy)" using the ultra-high accuracy of optical lattice clocks.

Long-Distance Transmission of 1 Tbit/s Ultra-High-Capacity Optical Signal

NTT and NTT Communications have successfully demonstrated long-distance transmission of a 1 Tbit/s optical signal in a commercial environment. A 1 Tbit/s optical signal using a wavelength division multiplexed technique was successfully transmitted over a world-record breaking distance of 1,122 km. This was achieved using a new large-core low-loss optical fiber cable deployed in NTT Communications' commercial environment, which reduces optical losses and non-linearity, and original NTT technologies including: (1) a precise calibration technology that compensates for imperfections in the optical transponder and enables high-quality multiorder modulation optical signals to be transmitted and received, (2) an optical transponder integrating a digital signal processor that implements the latest digital coherent technology, and high-bandwidth optical front-end circuits, and (3) transmission line design technology.

This result should lead to transmission speeds 10 times that of systems currently in use (100 Gbit/s per channel) and an 80% or greater reduction of power consumption per bit. As such, it is anticipated as a high-cap.

Evaluation by Society

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