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Building a Digital Twin: Testing the Effectiveness of Telecommunication Policies in a Virtual World

LIDA Seminar
Tuesday 15 January 2019, 4pm - 5pm
Worsley building, University of Leeds, Clarendon Way, Leeds, LS2 9NL


Infrastructure decision-making is challenging due to high levels of future uncertainty. Indeed, when considering broadband coverage, we are also faced with a situation where operators are reluctant to share data, there are few existing open-source evaluation models, and most available tools cannot be used by non-technical users. Transparency is sometimes low. Often disagreements arise between operators, regulators and other actors, with little independent assessment of key issues. Consequently, this paper proposes the development of a Digital Twin as a virtual test-bed for evaluating telecommunication policies. The concept of a Digital Twin has been common for several years in aerospace engineering, since first proposed by NASA in 2010. The vision defined in this paper is for a Digital Twin to be a virtual engineering-economic representation of a real-world telecommunication network, whereby simulation techniques allow exploration of potential future states under different policy conditions. A Digital Twin is developed for the British incumbent’s fixed broadband network, spanning 30 million premises and over 4.3 million geospatial telecommunication network assets. Using a network subset for Cambridgeshire, England the rollout of Fibre-To-The-Premises and Fibre-To-The-Distribution-Point upgrade options are then tested. Under different demand scenarios, market-based rollout is compared to a subsidised rollout strategy. Independently testing broadband deployment strategies in a virtual market and evaluating their effectiveness can provide greater transparency for decision-making processes. Over the long-term, a Digital Twin could help to generate new knowledge by testing experimental policy options, fostering greater innovation in how we tackle both perennial and emerging digital divide issues.

About the speaker

Dr Edward J Oughton (Senior Research Associate, University of Oxford) is known for developing decision-support models of digital infrastructure for both industry and government. He carried out one of the first assessments of 5G in Britain. Generally, his research includes assessing the capacity, coverage and cost of new digital infrastructure, against the revenue opportunities new services can provide. Currently, Edward has published 14 papers and been awarded over £480k in funding. This includes working on a variety of projects for organisations including the Facebook Connectivity Lab, UK’s Department for Transport, HM Treasury’s National Infrastructure Commission, the UK Met Office, the Asian Development Bank, Airbus Space and Defence, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, AIG , Lockheed Martin and the Canadian Space Agency. In 2017, he was nominated by the US Embassy (London) for the International Visitors Leadership Program based on his telecommunications research. Edward holds an MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge, is a 5G Researcher in Residence at the UK’s Digital Catapult, has an Adjust Assistant Professorship at Carnegie Mellon University and holds an Honorary Fellowship at the British Antarctic Survey. He also retains visiting positions at the Cambridge Judge Business School and Cambridge Computer Laboratory.


16.00-16.30 Building a Digital Twin: Testing the Effectiveness of Telecommunication Policies in a Virtual World

16.30-17.00 Q&A with Dr Edward J Oughton


To book your free place please email Hayley Irving with your name, occupation and faculty/organisation.