With speed to the flexible Internet of the future

Collaborative Research Centre at TU Darmstadt to receive further funding of 15 million euros


The Collaborative Research Centre MAKI (Multi-Mechanism Adaptation for the Future Internet) at the Technical University of Darmstadt has been working since 2013 on research into the foundations for a fast, flexible and reliable next-generation Internet. MAKI is being funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for another four years with around 15 million euros. In the third funding phase, the flexibility, resilience and speed of communication networks are to be significantly improved.

Digital infrastructures require a stable and powerful Internet.

The “forced digitisation” during the Corona pandemic has shown one thing: What is needed are digital infrastructures that can react highly flexibly to suddenly changing requirements while remaining stable and efficient. The fact that large parts of work and leisure time would take place from one week to the next via video streaming was something that initially only a few had “on screen”.

Trouble-free switching between Bluetooth, WiFi and 5G

MAKI spokesperson is Professor Ralf Steinmetz, Head of the Multimedia Communication Lab at the TU Darmstadt. “In cooperation with other universities, we are creating the basis for ensuring that the future network is fit for the Internet of Things, new forms of digital communication and internet services that we cannot even imagine at the present time,” says Ralf Steinmetz.

The big challenge is to ensure that all levels of the network – from physical cabling to application – work together seamlessly and without interruption. For example, the switch between Bluetooth, WiFi and 5G must be successful without any interruption in the data stream. These so-called “transitions” – i.e. seamlessly switching from one mechanism to another – make it possible to create an internet that is always resilient, reliably available, low-latency and very fast, despite increasing data loads. The fact that this is not a matter of course is demonstrated these days by regular failures in the mobile network when many people come together in one place, for example at major sporting events. The benefits of transitions have been proven many times, especially in such scenarios, for example in video streaming or augmented reality games.

Explanatory video on research at MAKI

The Collaborative Research Centre MAKI (Multi-Mechanism Adaption for the Future Internet) is working to ensure that the existing infrastructures of the Internet are better used and are also equipped for future technologies. (in German)

Faster networks and clouds: basic research meets industrial partners

In addition to the high flexibility of the network with regard to the respective requirements, an extremely low latency is crucial: that is, a very short delay in the provision of content and between technical devices. In the third funding phase, the flexibility, resilience and speed of communication networks are to be significantly improved. New types of software and hardware will be used together. The technical implementation of the basic concepts is also involved – specifically with industrial partners such as NEC Laboratories Europe, Vodafone GmbH and Robert Bosch GmbH. New hardware and software solutions for existing networks are to significantly accelerate and stabilise wireless networks and cloud applications in particular. In this way, MAKI's basic research will soon be noticeable in the everyday lives of citizens.