FlexNGIA: A Flexible Internet Architecture for the Next-Generation Tactile Internet


From virtual reality and telepresence, to augmented reality, holoportation, and remotely controlled robotics, these future network applications promise an unprecedented development for society, economics and culture by revolutionizing the way we live, learn, work and play. In order to deploy such futuristic applications and to cater to their performance requirements, recent trends stressed the need for the “Tactile Internet”, an Internet that, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), combines ultra low latency with extremely high availability, reliability and security (ITU-T Technology Watch Report. The Tactile Internet, 2014). Unfortunately, today’s Internet falls short when it comes to providing such stringent requirements due to several fundamental limitations in the design of the current network architecture and communication protocols. This brings the need to rethink the network architecture and protocols, and efficiently harness recent technological advances in terms of virtualization and network softwarization to design the Tactile Internet of the future. In this paper, we start by analyzing the characteristics and requirements of future networking applications. We then highlight the limitations of the traditional network architecture and protocols and their inability to cater to these requirements. Afterward, we put forward a novel network architecture adapted to the Tactile Internet called FlexNGIA, a Flexible Next-Generation Internet Architecture. We then describe some use-cases where we discuss the potential mechanisms and control loops that could be offered by FlexNGIA in order to ensure the required performance and reliability guarantees for future applications. Finally, we identify the key research challenges to further develop FlexNGIA towards a full-fledged architecture for the future Tactile Internet.

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    The round trip time is the time needed to send a packet to the destination and receive its acknowledgment. The end-to-end delay is the time to send the packet from the source to the destination.


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Correspondence to Mohamed Faten Zhani.

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FlexNGIA was presented at the keynote of ACM SIGCOMM 2019 Workshop on Networking for Emerging Applications and Technologies (NEAT-SIGCOMM 2019) (http://bit.ly/31W6vb2) and at the keynote of the IEEE/IFIP/ACM International Workshop on High-Precision Networks, Operations and Control (HiPNet-CNSM 2018), Rome, Italy, November 5-9, 2018 (https://goo.gl/ppdsVP.

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Zhani, M.F., ElBakoury, H. FlexNGIA: A Flexible Internet Architecture for the Next-Generation Tactile Internet. J Netw Syst Manage 28, 751–795 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10922-020-09525-0

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  • Tactile internet
  • Next-generation internet architecture
  • Ultra-low latency
  • High-precision networking
  • Cross-layer transport protocol stack
  • In-network computing
  • Software-defined networking
  • Network function virtualization
  • Transport protocols