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Group Seeking to Develop Next Big Breakthrough in Wireless Technologies

Next time phone service is spotty, don't get miffed, says Amir Esmailpour, UNH assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science. Instead, keep in mind that just 15 years ago, some of today's wireless applications might have seemed like science fiction.

Amir Esmailpour, Ph.D.

Back then, texting was just getting started, and tweeting was the noise made by a bird. It seemed implausible that from a device in the palm of a hand, someone could see a friend across the country as they talk, get directions, snap a photo, post it to a blog and check the score on a game or play one, all with the touch of a button.

That it happens is the result of thousands of researchers working at universities and research centers around the world, Esmailpour said.

And those researchers are at work right now on the next big thing.

The UNH Wireless Research Group (UNHwRG), supervised by Esmailpour, is very much a part of that oft-unseen group. With six graduate students and five undergraduates, UNHwRG is researching the next generation of wireless technologies, focusing particularly on wireless networking, with special interest on routing, radio resource management, quality of service (QoS) and performance evaluation of communication networks, protocols and algorithms.

It sounds complex, and it is, but the bottom line is this they are at work on technologies that may not be available for five or even 10 years. Eventually some may become part of daily life, just as the smartphone, says Esmailpour.

"In the last two years, the college decided to focus offerings in modern and socially relevant technical areas such as wireless communications, renewable energy, sustainability and cyber forensics," said Ron Harichandran, dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering.

"Dr. Esmailpour was hired to develop the wireless focus area. The college has added new research and teaching labs and purchased state-of-the-art software and hardware to support the wireless technology focus area."

Esmailpour said he is developing partnerships with telecommunications companies and the wireless industry and is in talks with AT&T and Comcast. Esmailpour also plans to reach out to faculty at other universities in Connecticut, such as Yale and UConn, so that UNH students can develop collaborative research projects.

"I'm very happy and impressed with the research being done by our students," he said, noting that their work has been published in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers publications.

Gelareh Kokabian, a graduate student majoring in electrical engineering with a concentration in communications, is researching adding a spectrum sensing block to the long-term evolution (LTE) network. "This will allow the network to select the best possible spectrum to use," Kokabian said. "The frequency spectrum is a limited resource for electromagnetic signals. With an increasing rate of development in new radio technologies and the number of wireless devices, it is essential to improve spectrum-usage efficiency."

Being part of UNHwRG is truly experiential learning, group members said, and a defining part of their UNH education.

"When we share our studies during presentations at weekly meetings, it helps us to gain knowledge of other research areas that may be related to ours, and it will be useful in our future career," Kokabian said.

"In my experience, UNH without UNHwRG wouldn't be the same," added Joswill Rodriguez, a graduate student studying computer science and software engineering. Rodriguez is researching quality of service interoperability among various wireless technologies.

The next device that stops people in their tracks, that must-have new technology, may very well have its roots at UNH.

"Our research benefits the tech companies tremendously," Esmailpour said. "Research is like a big ocean, and we are putting drops in it. But each of those small drops makes up the ocean."

This story, by Writer/Editor Jackie Hennesseyoriginally appeared in UNH Today on October 21 2013.