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The UK economy requires a digital infrastructure that is secure, resilient and flexible. This depends on continuous research & innovation, and BT, as the UK’s national telecoms operator, collaborates extensively with UK academia. This “NG-CDI” Prosperity Partnership brings together our key university partners to address the long term challenges critical to the UK’s digital infrastructure.”  


Prof Tim Whitley, MD BT Applied Research.

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An ambitious programme geared to create a radically new architecture for the UK’s internet and telecommunications infrastructure

Working with BT...

The UK’s Digital Infrastructure is critical to the commercial and social activities and success of the country. It is essential that this infrastructure continues to be world-leading. To keep ahead we need an infrastructure that is able to respond quickly to changing needs, and at minimum cost.


New services opportunities will arise more quickly than traditional networks and management methods can support. We can envisage new fields for telecoms services in, for example, haptics, Internet of Things, fleets of self-driving vehicles, new forms of interactive content delivery and augmented reality – but the creativity of the whole telecoms ecosystem will give rise to opportunities that we cannot predict. This means that services need to be configured in software rather than hardware.


We need to reduce the barriers to experimentation and trial, and have means for frictionless scaling. We will need faster ways to assess opportunities and risks, make decisions, and simplify service delivery. We will need to take advantage of autonomic technologies to contain and manage the concomitant complexity, and harmonise service delivery over fixed and mobile networks. We will need different skills, cultures and practices.


BT and the EPSRC are jointly funding four leading Universities: Lancaster, Cambridge, Surrey and Bristol in the quest for solutions. The programme commenced in 2018 and runs for 5 years. Realising this ambitious vision requires a multidisciplinary approach that combines an intimate understanding of operating national and international digital infrastructure with world-class expertise in the areas of data analytics, machine learning, cyber-physical systems, network functions virtualisation, networked systems, asset management and business innovation. 


This deep collaboration between academic and BT researchers brings together a world-leading combination of perspectives and expertise.

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The programme of work embraces:

1) Developing a completely new architecture for digital infrastructures, composed of highly dynamic network functions, based on a micro-NFV approach, that are collectively able to adapt to the real-time requirements of future digital services. 


2) Creating a new autonomic architecture for digital infrastructure to equip the nodes of the infrastructure network with the ability to understand their state, detect and diagnose disruptions to service, and take autonomous actions. 


3) Implementing approaches for the successful integration of these technologies within the business functions with an aim to improve service assurance and organisational value.

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