Mobile communications technology has arguably had the most widespread impact in the shortest time of any human technology. And COST has had a pivotal enabling role in its establishment and evolution. Professor Luis M. Correiais a central figure in the development of mobile telecommunications in Europe and in a range of COST Actions in the area since the early 90s.
Professor Luis M. Correia received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Technical University of Lisbon in 1991, where he is currently Professor of Telecommunications.
COST50: How did your involvement with COST start?
Prof. Correia: I started my involvement with COST in 1991. I was introduced to the initiative by a col-league. At the time mobile communications were in their infancy and relatively few people were working in the area, but there were huge expectations for the technology and COST offered great opportunities to exchange information and collaborate with colleagues.
COST50: You were first involved with the landmark COST Action 231; what was the significance of that initiative?
Prof. Correia: Indeed, the first Action I was involved with was the famous Action 231 (Digital mobile radio towards future generation systems) which built on the impact of a previous Action 207 (Digital landmobile radio communications) that had designed the channel model for what would become the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM).
The work under COST Action 231 essentially laid the basis for the deployment of the second generation of mobile communications otherwise known as 2Gor GSM. Before this, mobile communications were restricted to analogue mobile phones that were very bulky and expensive.
COST Action 231 looked at the propagation of the2G signals from the mobile phone to the base station and vice versa, and the models it developed are known as ‘COST 231 models’. These models have enabled mobile phone networks to be established efficiently and helped understand phenomena such as interference in urban and rural settings. They were a major step forward in ensuring high-quality communication networks.
COST50: Are the models still used for current network technologies?
Prof. Correia: Of course! The laws of physics do not change! The models are easy to use and work with other subsequent generations of technologies. The system characteristics may change, but the under-lying physics remains the same. These models have been the basis for all subsequent mobile communication propagation models.
COST50: Can you describe the impact of this research?
Prof. Correia: The advent of 2G as a technology had a huge disruptive impact. No one knew what the implications or the applications would be, but it enabled mobile communications to be possible and affordable for everyone.
The laws of physics do not change! The models are easy to use and work with other subsequent generations of technologies.”Professor Luis M. Correia, Professor of Telecommunications, University of Lisbon, Portugal
COST50: How did the COST programme assist?
Prof. Correia: The Actions and their networks are excellent forums for exchange and collaboration. The areas in which they operate are essentially precompetitive research, so there are no commercial competitive issues, which can inhibit collaboration and exchange of information. The fact that COST funds the networking activities, rather than the work itself, also eliminates competitive issues that surface in other collaborative funding programmes. The research community that was established under the initial COST Actions still exists today and is active and continues to push the technology forward.
COST50: How has the COST programme benefitted you personally?
Prof. Correia: Being part of COST has definitely helped me in my career. Following the COST Action231 I was asked to chair two follow-up Actions (Action 259 ‘Wireless flexible personalised communications’ and Action 273 ‘Towards mobile broadbandmultimedia networks’) which increased the visibility of my work immensely.
The COST programme helped me to increase my personal scientific networking. The Action brought my work on modelling into contact with people working on measurement and I benefited a lot from that. I have managed to be involved in a continuing series of COST Actions with new Actions starting as others finish. Such continuity is very important. The COST Actions have established a scientific community that has been working together now for three decades. It has built trusting relationships that have enabled, and continue to enable, high quality research outcomes.
COST50: What has been the impact of this COST programme?
Prof. Correia: From the perspective of 1991 no one could have imagined how fast mobile communications would have evolved. The technology went from zero to practically 100% penetration in less than30 years – today almost everyone in the World has –or can benefit from – the use of mobile phones. It is the fastest growth for a technology that humanity has ever seen. No one could have imagined the global impact. Not only in developed countries but also bringing services, such as banking, to remote or economically disadvantaged communities anywhere in the world. And the impact will continue to be very high. The5th generation (5G) technology currently being deployed will have more impact in indirect terms than previous generations. 5G is an enabler for new services such as autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things applications, wearable sensors and much more.