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For Immediate Release
October 22, 2008

For more information, contact
Nicholas Mascari
(585) 395-2754
nmascari@brockport.edu

Brockport Student wins International Essay Contest

Press Release Photo Vishal Anand PhD and Milen Nikolov

Brockport, NY – Milen Nikolov, a senior computer science and mathematics major at The College at Brockport, is among the 10 winners of the international student research essay contest sponsored by the British software company Symbian Limited. Symbian is the developer and licensor of Symbian OS™ software, the market-leading open operating system for mobile phones.

The contest organizers invited college/university students worldwide to submit a paper on the topic of: “The next wave of smartphone innovation - issues and opportunities with smartphone technologies.”

Niolov’s winning submission, an 11-page paper titled “Exploiting Social and Mobile Ad Hoc Networking to Achieve Ubiquitous Connectivity,” was based on research he had conducted under the supervision of Vishal Anand, PhD, assistant professor of computer science at The College at Brockport. The paper describes a new idea for a possible breakthrough technology that uses mobile ad hoc network (MANET) technology along with user roaming and social patterns to provide ubiquitous network connectivity.

The winners were selected by Symbian's Research Advisory Board headed by executive vice president David Wood, PhD.

"Symbian’s goals for this contest were to encourage university students to carry out research on topics of interest to Symbian, its wider community, and the mobile industry; to find out where the most interesting research was being carried out; and to stimulate interest in Symbian’s emerging University Research Relations program," Wood said.

Nikolov represents the only US entry named among the 10 winning submissions. The other nine award winners were from France, Austria, Indian, Russia, England, and Bangladesh.

Nikolov’s essay examined a particular example of using a mobile ad hoc network (MANET) and smartphones (a Blackberry is an example of a smartphone) to address the problem a lack of mobile phone signal in some buildings and other areas such as a subway tunnel.

“A million and a half people annually ride the New York City subway system, comprised of 468 stations to form the largest subway complex in the world. The diverse human conglomerate of cultures and lifestyles that inhabit NYC's subway though, share at least one common trend: lack of mobile coverage – a rather serious, both economical and social, issue. Thus, a daily influx of 5,042,263 potential customers is practically lost for mobile companies. Not to mention the irritating circumstance that in a world of otherwise global communications one is forced to spend significant periods of time without a connection signal,” Nikolov wrote.

One response to the problem would be to wire the subway stations using traditional methods, but that could cost up to $200 million and take ten years to complete. Nikolov argued that the time and expense of the traditional solution made the wireless MANET a viable and more economically attractive solution.

In a MANET, signals can reach phones that are outside the direct reach of the cell phone towers by using nearby phones as intermediary transmission stations, allowing phones still within cell tower coverage to pass on data via a series of local hops to phones that are further and further away from cell tower coverage. Using this idea mobile phone software can convert an extended group of nearby phones into a fast-changing ad-hoc network, passing information down the network to the intended recipient phone.

“The individual mobile device would act both as a receiver and dispatcher of signal… Social phenomena and behaviors can be used in favor of disseminating network coverage. Thus the signal coverage will depend on social communities. Collaborations of mobile society and devices can deliver services to the individual subscribers comprising it. To paraphrase a wording by President John F. Kennedy, ask not only what your signal can do for you, but what you can do for your signal.” wrote Nikolov.

MANETs, Nikolov suggests, also are interesting for the larger role they are likely to play in future networks where connections are free to change between different bearers.

“Within the context of 4G networks the connection between people and signal will be symbiotic; people will utilize the signal they get to fulfill their communication needs, and the signal will utilize the people to propagate itself across mobile ad hoc networks,” he said.

Nikolov’s essay also looks at both technical and social factors and how they will impact the effectiveness of MANETs. He suggests that social issues, rather than technical, will be the main hurdle.

“The more people (up to a limit) within a MANET network, the better. The power consumption per device would be less, resulting in increased links stability and network lifetime. Therefore, the public interest would require more people willing to join (the) MANET and share their technological resources more frequently to improve the network's quality,” he wrote.

Nikolov concluded that, “exploiting a combination of large infrastructured networks and small MANET networks is both feasible and beneficial for communities and corporations. Forming a MANET on demand in areas of weak or non-existent signal can tap potential capital currently outside the reach of mobile phone operators. The numerous people flowing through subway systems or buildings with no signal coverage would be able to connect to the outside world. Under 4G requirements of anytime-anywhere connectivity, research and implementation of MANET features (routing, security, energy awareness) will provide crucial competitive edge in 2012. Furthermore, even existing mobile ad hoc technologies are already sufficient for the establishment of comparatively small but well functioning pilot networks. Nokia’s signature line, Connecting PeopleTM would truly describe, both literally and semantically, the next generation of smartphones.”

Each winning authors will receive $1,800 (1,000 £) and their essays will be published on the Symbian Web site (www.symbian.com) and in the Symbian print journal. Winners also were recognized at the Symbian Smartphone Show (www.smartphoneshow.com), October 21-22, in London.

Rules and additional information about the 2009 contest, as well as summaries and extracts from 2008’s prize-winning essays, are available at www.symbian.com/universities.

Symbian Limited was founded in 1998 by cell phone companies Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola and Psion.

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