CFP, Special Issue on User-centric Networks and Services - IEEE Communications Magazine

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User-centric networks (UCNs) are a recent architectural trend of self-organizing, autonomic networks where the Internet end-user cooperates by sharing network services and resources. UCNs are spontaneous and grassroots deployments of wireless architectures (e.g., ad-hoc or infrastructure), often involving low-cost deployment. Furthermore, users in such environments tend to roam frequently. In such roaming environments, users carry equipment that plays an active role in terms of topology changes (e.g., an LTE phone which is sharing Internet access to other surrounding devices, may become active or inactive without operator control). Common to user-centric environments is a social behaviour that heavily impacts network operation from an end-to-end perspective, and on the different layers of the OSI stack.

UCNs empower the end-user as a new Internet stakeholder and not just as a consumer and producer of content. User-centric networking technologies can be applied to a wide range of scenarios, encompassing: i) sharing subscribed broadband Internet access; ii) providing support for better Internet connectivity; iii) allowing the use of communication services even in the absence of reliable Internet access; iv) assisting networking services based on user involvement for the detection and repair of communication problems.

The new role of an empowered end-user is disruptive in several aspects, namely: i) in the end-to-end Internet paradigm, end-user devices will actively participate as a network element in addition to being an endpoint host; ii) network boundaries of trust will need to be extended in a way that should mimic social behavior; and iii) end-user devices should be capable of handling intermittent Internet connectivity as well as fast and transparent roaming between micro-operators. There is also the need to further understand wholesale models incorporating UCNs, as well as to understand the impact of UCNs in the context of standardization.

Regarding the commercial market for UCNs, this feature topic includes discussion of market factors, such as time-to-market, benefits for Internet access stakeholders, and user uptake and user acceptance (e.g., how will users be motivated to participate in UCNs which use their devices' resources such as battery power).

Regarding standardization, there are several bodies addressing UCNs. For example, the IEEE recently approved the creation of the new IEEE 802.11TM High Efficiency WLAN (HEW) study group, dedicated to study the scope and purpose of a future IEEE 802.11 amendment to provide advanced data rates. Aspects to be addressed relate to high-efficiency WLAN technology, including low power, efficient spectrum use, multi-band networking and high-speed data transfer rates.

Another standardization example is the Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 focus on enabling mobile devices to automatically discover and securely connect to Wi-Fi hotspots with no user intervention, which is directly relevant to UCNs. A third standardization example is the current IETF focus on distributed mobility management solutions via the DMM working group, which is addressing requirements and features required in mobility management solutions, in the context of flat networks.

This feature topic solicits original, high-quality papers that analyze and discuss ideas related to user-centric networking services, technologies, markets, and standards, including specific improvements to current Internet services and new components that can be integrated into a future Internet architecture.

This special issue is accepting papers on the topics including, but not limited to, the following:

To promote unprecedented approaches and techniques in participatory and opportunistic data collection, communication, analysis, and visualization;
To identify open issues which remain a challenge towards the convergence of information and communication technologies, privacy protection methods, social and psychological theories in MCS;
To exploit novel application areas and demonstrate the benefits of MCS in contrast with more traditional static sensing approaches.

Topics may include (but are not limited to):

Community detection and social interaction
Dynamic trust management models
Cooperation incentive models
Distributed mobility management
Human behavior and mobility prediction
Virtual currency architectures and models
Resource management in spontaneous environments
Cooperative networking
Market impact and analysis of UCN integration
Standardization aspects in regards to UCN topics such as user liability, authentication, and highly efficient WLANs.