Making connections improves wireless connectivity

Carleton University postdoc joins with Ericsson to enhance cellular and Wi-Fi systems

As a PhD student in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering at Ottawa’s Carleton University, Hassan’s research focused on the efficiency of wireless systems — finding newer and better ways to control how cellular and Wi-Fi systems allocate network resources optimally.

In 2012, he received a Mitacs Elevate fellowship, which allowed him to continue his research before going on to gain practical experience at tech giant Ericsson. That extra year at Carleton saw Hassan discover new ways to reduce the power consumption of wireless networks, while improving their performance.

“This means customers can have faster wireless internet access with fewer delays, and use less of their cell’s battery power,” says Hassan. “For cellular providers, their systems can handle more customers, and give people a better experience.”

Later, at Ericsson, Hassan joined the Wi-Fi System Design team, investigating ways to further develop carrier-grade Wi-Fi — a system allowing wireless companies to route data traffic from cellular bands onto Wi-Fi. The team needed to give Wi-Fi systems higher performance and reliability, and figure out how to give cell networks the ability to automatically choose which data to switch over to Wi-Fi.

“This would give consumers better voice quality on their cell phone calls, faster downloading, and better video streaming,” says Hassan.

In areas with good Wi-Fi, they’d also have better coverage if cell connections are bad. For cell companies, offloading calls onto Wi-Fi networks would save money because Wi-Fi’s bandwidth is unlicensed. It would also let them handle more customers on their networks.”

Meanwhile, Ericsson also added Hassan to a group collaborating with other tech companies to develop new global compatibility standards for Wi-Fi networks. He’s now employed with the company full-time.

“Many companies hire people with working experience, but few PhDs have it,” says Ericsson Systems Engineer Roland Smith. “Bringing them in on postdoctoral fellowships like the ones provided by Mitacs helps give them that experience, while we get someone with a fresh perspective.”

Hassan echoes that sentiment. “You don’t want to do research that no-one wants or needs. It’s important for academics doing theoretical research to produce the knowledge needed by industries and consumers in Canada.”

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their support of the Elevate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Elevate program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

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