Communication networks beyond the capacity crunch

A.D. Ellis*, N. Mac Suibhne, D. Saad, D.N. Payne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Part A represents a summary of the recent discussion meeting 'Communication networks beyond the capacity crunch'. The purpose of the meeting was to establish the nature of the capacity crunch, estimate the time scales associated with it and to begin to find solutions to enable continued growth in a post-crunch era. The meeting confirmed that, in addition to a capacity shortage within a single optical fibre, many other 'crunches' are foreseen in the field of communications, both societal and technical. Technical crunches identified included the nonlinear Shannon limit, wireless spectrum, distribution of 5G signals (front haul and back haul), while societal influences included net neutrality, creative content generation and distribution and latency, and finally energy and cost. The meeting concluded with the observation that these many crunches are genuine and may influence our future use of technology, but encouragingly noted that research and business practice are already moving to alleviate many of the negative consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20150191
Number of pages12
JournalPhilosophical Transactions A
Issue number2062
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: EPSRC (UNLOC - EP/J017582/1; CASE 12330048; HYPERHIGHWAY and PEACE - EP/L000091/1); Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (WM120035); and European Union (FOX-C - 318415) and InSpace (619732); EC Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship SOLAS (608099); Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2013-48); Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Photonics.


  • capacity limits
  • energy
  • mobile communications
  • optical communications


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