Eva Lagunas, pictured, wants to speed up the mobile internet
Photo: Mike Zenari
Telecommunications engineering is a passion that runs in the family for University of Luxembourg research associate Eva Lagunas.
Growing up in Barcelona, Spain, she had a first-hand view of the field through her father, a university professor and telecoms engineer. “His devotion and love to his job was really inspiring; he’s a true believer in science,” explains Lagunas.
Therefore, it was natural that with her aptitude for maths and physics she decided to follow in his footsteps. After finishing her PhD in signal theory and communications at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, she accepted a research position that brought her to Luxembourg.
It was the reputation of the director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT), part of the University of Luxembourg, that first attracted Lagunas to the grand duchy. “Professor Björn Ottersten is doing an incredible job [as head of the] SnT and particularly with the Sigcom group, which has grown from 10 to 50 researchers since I joined in 2014,” she says.
Through SnT’s partnership with Luxembourg-based SES, the world’s largest satellite operator, Lagunas’ research tackles the challenge of integrating satellites into 5G wireless communications, which will be rolled out in Luxembourg within several years.
As online streaming and gaming become ubiquitous, and mobile device use grows alongside the global population, the demands for data traffic are dramatically increasing. 5G will deliver much larger volumes of data at even higher speeds than today’s 4G technology.
“In a few years, you may be able to download a full-length HD movie to your phone in a matter of seconds rather than minutes,” states Lagunas. “However, this poses challenges for the upcoming generation of wireless communications.”
Her recent “Sansa” project, which was backed by the European Commission and ended earlier this year, looked at how satellites could help free up the existing terrestrial backhaul network (which connects service providers) through their higher data capacity.
Satellite signals can reach everywhere in the world, making them useful for bringing internet connectivity to remote communities, as well as for emergency communications. However, satellite links are also slower, which can affect the quality of a live stream or voice call.
Lagunas’ research is focused on the concept of a seamlessly integrated satellite-terrestrial backhaul network which can deliver data using both satellite and terrestrial links depending on the traffic demands, and how best to manage the resources this requires.
Lagunas is excited to play an active role in designing the future. “My dream is to see one of my fundamental techniques and methods standardised and used in real technology.”
In the meantime, she is enjoying living and working in Luxembourg. “When I came here, I discovered a beautiful, multilingual and multicultural country,” Lagunas says. “I work with a very young and international team and sometimes, I stop in a meeting just to admire how well everyone is getting along together!”