FORCES Project Colloquium
Telecommunications Services -
The Next Generation

26th November 1999


The objective of the colloquium was to present and discuss current and future research issues in telecommunications services. The general theme was that of emerging telecommunications services in new kinds of networks. The colloquium was focused on next generation networks and next generation services. These were studied from a number of perspectives: evolution, management, architecture, engineering, technology and research.

The colloquium was organised by the FORCES project (Forum for Creation and Engineering of Telecommunications Services), supported by EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) under grant GR/M00275. The colloquium was sponsored by IEE (Institution of Electrical Engineers) who kindly provided meeting facilities.


The colloquium took place on Friday 26th November 1999 in the Council Chamber, Institution of Electrical Engineers, Savoy Place, LONDON WC2R 0BL. See the online map for details of its location. The nearest underground station is Embankment, with Charing Cross and Covent Garden as alternatives.


Key industrial and academic speakers covered the broad spectrum of the topic through formal presentations. There was ample opportunity for informal discussion with the speakers and fellow delegates. There were no proceedings, but copies of presentations were made available where possible via the web.

Who should attend

The colloquium was of particular interest to industrial and academic workers in the field of telecommunications services. This included technical managers from telecommunications organisations, service development engineers, and researchers from industry and university laboratories.


The FORCES consortium includes industrial and academic partners throughout the UK. The project management committee comprises British Telecommunications, CITEL Technologies, Ericsson UK, University of Glasgow, University of Kent, University of Lancaster, Marconi Communications, University of Strathclyde, University of Stirling (Coordinator).


Speakers are hyperlinked where possible to their home web page or email address. Titles of presentations are hyperlinked where possible to the slides (gzipped PowerPoint, PostScript or PDF).

09.30-09.45Ken Turner
University of Stirling
Colloquium Context
09.45-10.30Dave Marples
Telcordia, Morristown (USA)
The Next Generation Network
Today's telecommunications networks are based on the concept of switching 64 Kbit/sec channels around a network, using a separate control infrastructure. This architecture evolved from the `switched copper' network and has served well to date. However as computing technology becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, moves to unify computer and telecommunication networks are afoot with the promise of higher performance and cost savings. This presentation outlines what a Next Generation Network is, and what changes we should expect to see in the first part of the Twenty First century as a result of their adoption. This especially concerns the features and facilities that network operators can provide using them.
10.30-11.00Evan Magill
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Next Generation Networks - Next Generation Feature Interaction?
Experience from POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) and the IN (Intelligent Network) tells us that many services and features interwork. In practice they are often incompatible. Developed separately, they are often written without knowledge of the other. Traditionally this has been called the `feature interaction problem'. The trend towards service provision at the periphery of the network is gathering pace with the widespread adoption of scripting standards such as TAPI (Telephony Application Programming Interface) and TSAPI, not to mention the coming wave of network-provided interfaces such as Parlay and JAIN (Java Advanced Intelligent Network). This heralds the potential for a huge explosion in the number of services and applications. A strong requirement for interworking seems inevitable. The potential for feature interaction disrupting the introduction of new services is clear. Coupled with the technological changes is a major drive towards de-regulation of telecommunication services. No longer will the network operator be the only service provider. Third party service providers will be given access to the incumbent's network. With interactions between two separate providers on an incumbent's network causing difficulties for all three, a technological solution to this problem is essential. To date, progress on feature interaction solutions has been slow, but new software architectures may allow more rapid progress in the future. In POTS and the IN, services do not `talk' to each other. They are not aware, except through indirect symptoms, that another service or feature is influencing the call or connection. New software architectures offer the potential for services not only to know about each other but also to communicate directly, albeit through an intermediary. This is a major change in direction for feature interaction research. The talk will discuss feature interaction in the light of next generation networks, and the potential for radically different approaches to the feature interaction problem.
11.30-12.15Graham Clark
Marconi Communications, Coventry
Delivering Services In Next Generation Networks
PSTN/ISDN networks have been developed over the past two decades to support a wide range of features and services. These have remained largely under the control of the network operators who, with the equipment suppliers, ensure that the integrity of the network and the end user perception of the network is maintained for any combination of active services. The rapid growth of mobile networks and the innovative development of mobile terminals has introduced new service delivery paradigms within this area of telecommunications. The emergence of new network architectures based on data communications technologies presents new service opportunities that are not exclusively under the control and ownership of network operators. The talk will present an overview of the progress of service delivery through these different phases, and debate the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the players in the networks of the future.
12.15-12.45Alan Dearle
University of St. Andrews
Towards Flexible Internet Computing
Current Internet standards are known to contain many technical shortcomings. The talk will propose a globally applicable software architecture that is able to enhance the current state of the Internet whilst working within existing standards and protocols. The new architecture adds value to the existing infrastructure, rather than seeking to replace it with a technically superior model. In outline, the aim is to introduce a new style of inexpensive networked machine called the `Thin Server'. This will allow computations to occur on third party machines in suitable physical locations. The computation may be prescribed and sent by a client, and may be dynamically altered during execution. The nature of these computations will often include fetching of data from physically adjacent servers, performing calculations over them, and returning the result to the client. The machines require no access privileges other than public data channels, and do not contain data other than that generated during the course of such computations; they thus demonstrably do not pose a security risk. Current work is constructing suitable program, data and operating system models for use within this context. The aim is to provide a programming system, built on a microkernel operating system, that can be placed on a stand-alone network machine for a total cost of under £500.
12.45-13.45Buffet Lunch
13.45-14.30Ivan Boyd
BT Adastral Park, Ipswich
The Parlay API
The evolution of intelligent capabilities in conventional switched networks and data networks has generated opportunities to expose control of many telecommunications network capabilities to enterprises outside the network operator's domain. Historically, these capabilities have been exclusively under the control and exploitation of network operators. This has partially been as a result of incompatible standards but also to ensure network security and integrity. However provided the security and integrity issues can be addressed, enabling access to network capabilities via an API (Application Programming Interface) is very attractive. Service providers, ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) and other developers in the IT and telecommunication industries can be empowered to generate applications that benefit from, and add value to, functionality resident in public and/or private communications networks. The Parlay Group was formed in April 1998 to produce an API specification that would allow enterprises to control a range of network capabilities, and allow them access to network information. The API specification produced is open and technology-independent, so that the widest possible range of market players (e.g. Independent Software Vendors) may develop and offer advanced telecommunication services. The talk will introduce the work of the Parlay Group, including an update on the work of phase 2, and provide a technical overview of the API specification.
14.30-15.15Jean Bacon
University of Cambridge
Towards Asynchronous, Secure Middleware
The Cambridge Event Architecture (CEA) is based on a publish, register, notify paradigm with event object classes and source-side filtering based on parameter templates. Standard platform technology is used: the IDL (Interface Definition Language) is used to publish events, and automatic stub generation is used for event notification - equivalent to typed message-passing. Asynchronous notification allows a system to respond immediately to the occurrence of events, such as the detection of a mobile user or the withdrawal of access rights from an individual. Event notification may also be used to compose independently developed components. The security architecture Oasis (Open Architecture for Securely Interworking Services) runs on a middleware platform extended for asynchronous operation. Oasis is concerned with the secure interoperability of independently developed services. For scalability, an Oasis server may name its many users in terms of a number of roles; access rights are associated with roles. Entry to a named role of a service is restricted to those that can prove they belong to other named roles of this and/or other services. This work is wide in scope, being applicable to many human organisations which have multi-service information systems - for example the UK National (Electronic) Health Service.
15.45-16.30Peter Martin
Marconi Communications, Poole
Service Creation using Genetic Programming
The approach of genetic programming will be introduced and contrasted with traditional genetic algorithms. Genetic programming iteratively selects individuals from a population based on fitness, applying some reproduction operators. The applicability of genetic programming to telecommunications services will be explained. It will be seen how fitness functions play their role, given an appropriate selection of functions and terminals. This can produce novel and unexpected solutions for services, that will be compared to the results of a human programmer.
16.30-16.45John Evans
Marconi Communications, Coventry
Colloquium Summary


Registration was with the FORCES project coordinator, not with the IEE:
Prof. Ken Turner
Computing Science and Mathematics
University of Stirling
Scotland FK9 4LA
01786-467-420   01786-464-551
Registration on the day was possible, but was strongly encouraged before 15th November so as to finalise catering.

The registration fee was £25, which included tea/coffee breaks and buffet lunch. Payment was possible by cheque, credit card or debit card. Receipts were issued at the colloquium. No refunds could made, but registered delegates could be replaced by other individuals.

Thanks to support by EPSRC, the fee was waived for the first ten registrations from UK academic staff and the first ten registrations from UK research students. These free places were allocated in order of application up to 12th November, beyond which the standard fee applied.

Programme Committee

Prof. Muffy Calder (University of Glasgow)
John Evans (Marconi Communications, Coventry)
Prof. Ken Turner (University of Stirling)

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Last Update: 15th July 2006