Background
The Internet Society's Global Internet User Survey 2012 reveals that a large majority of respondents believe that Internet access should be considered a basic human right. However, in the reality of today's Internet, the vision of global access to the Internet faces the challenge of a growing digital divide, i.e., a growing disparity between those with sufficient access to the Internet and those who cannot afford access to the essential services provided by the Internet.

Access problems often result from sparsely spread populations living in physically remote locations, since it is simply not cost effective for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install the required infrastructure for broadband Internet access to these areas. In addition to the physical limitations of terrestrial infrastructures (mainly due to distance) to provide last mile access, remote communities also incur higher costs for connection between the exchange and backbone network when using wired technologies. A large exchange may accommodate many users and allow for competition between service operators; in contrast, a rural/remote broadband exchange often does not offer economies of scale, raising the costs per user. Thus, although service requirements for customers in rural/remote areas and cities are identical, the delivery and pricing mechanisms need to be different. This requirement is also applicable to urban areas where cost of access is considered as a major impediment for wider access.

Addressing digital exclusion due to socio-economic barriers is also extremely important. The United Nations revealed the global disparity in fixed broadband access, showing that access to fixed broadband mainly in less-developed countries costs almost 40 times their national average income. This problem is even encountered in developed countries, where many individuals find themselves unable to pass a necessary credit check or live in circumstances that are too unstable to commit to lengthy broadband contracts.

There are policy and research challenges at the level of social science, economics and technology to the realisation of a future Internet capability that will offer appropriate access to all parts of society. There can be no single uniform solution that embraces all types of user and all locations, given the impact that social aspects (such as different human needs and aspirations) have on building technological solutions. It is important to emphasize that there also is room for innovation and experimentation in policy. The major obstacles to more persistent and affordable access in sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia, the Middle East, and other regions are not technological but regulatory. There is a need for innovative regulation and reformed public policy to enable new business models and wireless technologies to flourish. Moreover, the social science dimension of an universal Internet must not be forgotten, capturing the impact of human values on the design decisions of underlying solutions on the one hand and the impact of the Internet on the human value network on the other hand.

N4D Lab

The N4D Lab (Networking for Development Lab) initiated the LCD-Net: Lowest Cost Denominator Networking initiative, which is a new Internet paradigm that architects multi-layer resource pooling Internet technologies to support new low-cost access methods that would enable free Internet connectivity to enable social inclusion. The cross-disciplinary nature of this initiative cross cutting Computer Science, Social Science, Economics, Law and Policy Research will help uncover the incentives and games that produce successful strategies for getting closer to 100% coverage of Internet access. The N4D lab is led by Dr. Arjuna Sathiaseelan from the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. The lab's activities are funded by the EU H2020, FP7 and EPSRC grants.

Arjuna Sathiaseelan is also the Chair of IRTF Global Access to the Internet for All (GAIA) research group.

I am looking to hire two Postdoctoral Research Associates to start February 2015 for the EU H2020 RIFE project (Job advert here) and one Postdoctoral Research Associate for EU H2020 UMobile (Job advert here).


Projects

1.
Architecting the Internet for the Challenged (EU H2020 RIFE and UMobile Projects) (to start in Jan/Feb 2015 for three years)
In these projects we propose to address the challenges of making the Internet ubiquitous, accessible and energy-efficient. We do this by traversing a range of connectivity options that ensure universal coverage, while providing a single unifying communication architecture with a single set of abstractions that not only spurs innovation for a wide range of new services and applications but also encompasses existing successful Internet services. We utilise advances in information-centric networking (ICN) to provide this abstraction - an abstraction driven by access to and provisioning of information rather than the connection to explicitly identified endpoints.Through this abstraction, we accommodate today's web-based services while providing a path to future immersive and sensor-rich applications, such as those envisioned by the Internet of Things. The focus on information enables inherent support for rich caching policies that ultimately increase the efficiency of the network across different technologies by providing information from the most efficient provider rather than the original source.

The concept of overarching ICN enables us to pursue multiple complementary connectivity options, specifically including Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN), as distinct dissemination strategies, each of which constitutes a set of protocols that optimally utilise local resources. Integrating multiple concurrent dissemination strategies enables the utilisation of connected and disconnected modes of access under a single architectural (information-centric) abstraction. This enables us to accommodate a pure IP-based world as much as a challenged connectivity DTN world, all within a single architecture, while exploiting all possible communication opportunities that particular network deployments provide, ranging from fixed, all-optical deployments of wireless and mobile networks to satellite-supported deployments that cover difficult-to-reach environments.


2. Virtual Public Networks (EU FP7 COSMOS)
There have been several initiatives to enable wider access to the Internet. The Public Access WiFi Service (PAWS) is one such initiative that enables free Internet access to all and is based on Lowest Cost Denominator Networking (LCDNet), a set of network techniques that enable users to share their home broadband network with the public. LCDNet makes use of the available unused capacity in home broadband networks and allows Less-than-Best Effort (LBE) access to these resources. LCDNet also enables third party stakeholders, such as local government, to become virtual network operators, reducing the costs of network operators to setup and manage new infrastructures to extend access to their Internet backhaul. With the advent of software defined networking (SDN), there are more opportunities for network operators to create, deploy and manage such open home networks at large scale. As such, we envision Virtual Public Networks (VPuN), i.e., home networks created, deployed and managed through an evolutionary SDN control abstraction. This offers more flexibility to users and network operators, allowing them to share and control the network, while providing opportunities for new stakeholders to emerge as virtual network operators.



Past Projects
1. PAWS: Public Access WiFi Service project aims to utilise the unused capacity at home broadband networks to provide free Internet access to all to access essential services. The project extends the stakeholder value chain for incentivising Internet access deployment by including more than the two traditional parties (consumer and Internet service provider), for example, adding local government, who have a vested interest in decreasing the cost of human-centered service, and replacing these costly interactions with online services, which already prove popular with existing Internet users. This project is funded by the EPSRC. The project has several partners: Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, Rural Digital Economy Hub (funded through its partnership fund), BT, SamKnows, Nottingham City Council and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

2. New Satellite Access Methods to Provide Lower than Best Effort Internet Access is a three year project funded by the French Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space to explore new low-cost satellite access methods. The project is in collaboration with TESA/ISAE.

Workshops
1.
IRTF GAIA workshop, co-located with ACM DEV, San Jose,  December 2014.
2.
Towards an Affordable Internet Access for Everyone: The Quest for Enabling Universal Service Commitment, Dagstul Seminar, November 2014.
3. IRTF GAIA European workshop, Cambridge,  October 2014.
4.
IEEE/IFIP Wireless On-demand Network Systems (WONS), Special Session on Community Wireless Networks, April 2014.

5. IRTF GAIA workshop, IETF 89, London,  March 2014.

6. ACM MobiCom LCDNet,  September 2013.

7. Internet on the Move workshop, Cambridge Computer Laboratory, October 2012.

Invited Talks

1. Networking for Development, DigiWorld Executive Club, Vodafone, July 2014.
2. Public Access WiFi Service (PAWS), Workshop on Internet Monitoring Study, European Commission, Brussels, May 2014.
3. Virtual Public Networks, Cambridge Wireless Virtual Networks SIG, London, April 2014.
4. Virtual Public Networks, ON.LAB, Stanford, March 2014.
5. Virtual Public Networks, Cisco Enterprise, San Jose, March 2014.
6. An Internet Architecture for the Challenged, IAB Workshop, Cambridge, December 2013.
7. LCDNet: Lowest Cost Denominator Networking, Networks and Services Research Laboratory, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, UCL, November 2013.
8. LCDNet: Lowest Cost Denominator Networking, Network Operations and Internet Security Lab, College of Computing, Georgia Tech, October 2013.
9. LCDNet: Lowest Cost Denominator Networking, Workshop on Participatory Networks and Privacy: New Research Issues, University of Nottingham, September 2013.
10. LCDNet: Lowest Cost Denominator Networking, Next Generation Networking, Coseners, July 2013.
11. Architecting the Internet for the Challenged, Workshop on DTN Communications, Space Internetworking Center, Greece, June 2013.
12. LCD-Net: Lowest Cost Denominator Networking - Enabling donated lunches in the Internet, Systems Research Group, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, December 2012.
13. Pervasive Internet: Rural Reality or Pipe Dream, Cafe Connect, Bonar Bridge, July 2011.
14. Enabling zero-cost connectivity for disadvantaged communities, School of Computer Science, University of St.Andrews, June 2011.
15. Satellite Internet for Rural Access, dot.Rural Seminar, University of Aberdeen, April 2011.
16. Enabling zero-cost connectivity for disadvantaged communities, Center for Sustainable International Development (CSID), University of Aberdeen, March 2011.
17. Internet Technology to support Rural
Digital Inclusion, University of Cambridge, October 2009.

Related Publications

2014

A Feasibility Study of an In-the-Wild Experimental Public Access WiFi Network
A. Sathiaseelan, R. Mortier, M. Goulden, C. Greiffenhagen, M. Radenkovic, J. Crowcroft, D. McAuley, ACM DEV, San Jose, December 2014.

Architecting a Low Cost Television White Space Network For Developing Regions

M. Zennaro, E. Pietrosemoli, A. Sathiaseelan, ACM DEV, San Jose, December 2014.
 
Software Defined Crowdshared Wireless Mesh Networks
A. Abujoda, A. Sathiaseelan, A. Rizk, P. 
Papadimitriou, 3rd International IEEE Workshop on Community Networks and Botton-up-Broadband (CNBuB), October 2014.

Social SDN: Online Social Networks Integration in Wireless Network Provisioning
A. Sathiaseelan, S. Seddiki, S. Stoyanov, D. Trossen, ACM SIGCOMM Poster, August 2014.

Researching Global Access to the Internet for All (GAIA)
A. Sathiaseelan, IETF Journal, July 2014.

LEDBAT Performance in Subpacket Regimes
I. Komnios, A. Sathiaseelan,  J. Crowcroft, IEEE/IFIP WONS, Austria, April 2014.

2013

An Internet Architecture for the Challenged
A. Sathiaseelan, D. Trossen, I. Komnios, J. Ott, J. Crowcroft, IAB Internet Technology Adoption and Transition (ITAT) Workshop, Cambridge, December 2013.

Virtual Public Networks
A. Sathiaseelan, C. Rotsos, C.S. Sriram, D. Trossen, P. Papadimitriou, J. Crowcroft, 2nd IEEE European Workshop on Software Defined Networking (EWSDN), Berlin, October 2013.

Information Centric Delay Tolerant Networking: An Internet Architecture for the Challenged
A. Sathiaseelan, D. Trossen, I. Komnios, J. Ott, J. Crowcroft, Computer Laboratory Technical Report, UCAM-CL-TR-841, September 2013.

Less-than-Best Effort capacity sharing over high BDP networks with LEDBAT
N. Kuhn, O. Mehani, A. Sathiaseelan, E. Lochin, IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference, Las Vegas, September 2013. 


Enhanced broadband access as a solutionto the social and economic problems of the rural digital divide
L. Townsend, A. Sathiaseelan, G. Fairhurst, C. Wallace, Journal of Local Economy, August 2013.


LCD-Net: Lowest Cost Denominator Networking
A. Sathiaseelan, J. Crowcroft, ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review, April 2013.

Internet on the Move: Challenges and Solutions
A. Sathiaseelan, J. Crowcroft, ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review, January 2013.


2012

Public Access WiFi Service (PAWS)
A. Sathiaseelan, J. Crowcroft, M. Goulden, C. Greiffenhagen, R. Mortier, G. Fairhurst, D. McAuley, Digital Economy All Hands Meeting, Aberdeen, October 2012.

Next Generation Satellite for Enabling Universal Service Commitment
Z. Hossain, A. Sathiaseelan, L. Townsend, G. Fairhurst, C. Wallace, Digital Economy All Hands Meeting, Aberdeen, October 2012.

Free Internet - A Distant Mirage or Near Reality?
A. Sathiaseelan, J. Crowcroft, Computer Laboratory Technical Report, UCAM-CL-TR-814, February 2012.


2010

Universal Service Provisioning using Next Generation Access Technologies
A. Sathiaseelan and G. Fairhurst, Digital Futures, Nottingham, October 2010.