Innovating to grow: we can and must

Italtel has just signed a framework agreement with the CNR for joint research.

We believe it is an important event because in Italy we have not yet developed the idea that research on digital innovation can bring a competitive advantage to the country. Despite having areas of excellence, like the highest peaks of our made-in-Italy, we are not fully aware of how innovation can make the business grow.

Our example can demonstrate that there is a solution to the problem. And this goes through a joint public-private action: bringing together the skills developed by a private company together with those of public research institutes.

The Italtel-CNR agreement

The recent agreement is a collaboration in the funding of research and development tenders. For several weeks now we have been working together on quantum technologies, which are the next technological frontier not only for computers, but also for telecommunications. In particular, we carry out research with the CNR in the field of network security applications, with Quantum Key Distribution technology. This allows the creation of secret keys with security guaranteed by the laws of quantum physics. A technology that, as of today, is inviolable. In Italy, we therefore have the CNR, various research institutes on photons, but also other partners such as the Polytechnic of Milan, all interested in this technology.

We give three contributions to this project.

First: on the topological structure of optical networks necessary to apply QKD. In fact, we have become highly specialized designers on Open Fiber networks and we, therefore, offer the skills we acquired so far on the market.

Second: since the cryptographic keys, in addition to being exchanged on the optical carrier (fiber), must also act on the services upper layers (IP), we make a contribution to the integration between the optical and networking layer.

Third: a contribution is made to the analysis of the data derived from research carried out on some optical networks, in particular those of Naples, Prato and the nationwide network that manages the synchronization of watches of time brands in Italy (Inmir).

The last one is the Gaar network (the ultra-broadband Italian network dedicated to education, research and culture community), while the first two are managed by the CNR and the respective Municipalities.

Future developments

Looking ahead, we want to enhance our expertise in other areas: Industry 4.0, telemedicine and smart cities. These are the three applications we want to apply to 5G technologies, developed as an Exprivia-Italtel group.

Telemedicine for us means bringing the hospital ward to the patient’s home. Thanks largely to the new sensors and immersive video communication enabled by 5G, with which the patient can have a complete interaction at a distance, almost as if he/she were having a direct contact with the doctor. Just as if the patient were in the hospital.

A great Italian hospital, known for the oncology department, told me: we would solve problems of clogging and delays if we could follow people at a distance with regards to the follow ups we have to do every six months with the patients.

One idea is to make the most remote hospitals – those that Italy would like to eliminate- as “data-collection points”, which would consequently be sent to more equipped and specialized hospitals. In the suburbs we can keep radiographic machines, without the need to have super specialized doctors on site. The latter can work better by analyzing the centralized data coming from the collection centers.

All this is favored by 5G. For two reasons. Immersive video communication needs a gigabit per second network. But not only. The network slicing technology, possible with the 5G, allows to profile the network by assigning a part of the network (in fact a slice) to a particular service. Telemedicine, for example. With a reliability factor of 99.999.

In conclusion, we know how our country is lagging behind in investment in research and development (it spends 1.3 per cent of GDP, in particular just 0.6 percent in basic public research). It means that Italy no longer has the strength to look to the future. We want to make a small contribution so that all of us – citizens, businesses and institutions – can once again face the future with more courage.

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Stefano Pileri
Since September 2010 he is Italtel Chief Executive Officer with the task of leading the company in financial restructuring and creating a new industrial strategy based on the development of a new portfolio of Telecommunication Products (IMS, Session Border Controllers, Network Management Systems) and on Competence Centers for Managed Services and System Integration. 45% of Italtel revenues are outside Italy: Europe and Latin America. The main markets are today: Telecommunications Market, Enterprise and Public Administration Market.
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