INITIATE will offer a single distributed test-bed able to support the increasingly complex experimentation required for future Internet research, by combining capability of the UK Internet research and innovation communities.

Understanding the behaviour of the Internet with its inherent complexity and scale is essential when designing new Internet systems and applications. Simulation, emulation and test-bed experiments are important techniques for investigating large scale complex Internet systems.

It is now widely recognised that classical theoretical/simulation scalability studies for Internet research are unreliable without relevant and representative supporting experimental evidence. This is increasingly important with the emergence of 5G, cloud services and IoT, which lead to at least two orders increase in connection capacity requirements and three orders of additional devices that require Internet connectivity.

Great progress has been made in the UK over the years on the development of communications laboratories infrastructure in ICT domains such as optical and wireless, signal processing, networks and distributed systems, where the UK is leading internationally.

However, UK telecommunications research remains largely segregated in independent optical, wireless or computer network research labs, so researchers very rarely have the opportunity to experiment across the boundaries between these disciplines. Due to the limitations of performing research in discipline-specific facilities, the current UK ICT research output does not address realistic end-to-end Internet systems.

INITIATE will create a new, specialist distributed test-bed to facilitate the increasingly large and complex experimentation required for future Internet research. This will be achieved by interconnecting operational, state-of-the-art operational laboratories at the Universities of Bristol, Lancaster, Edinburgh and Kings College London.

These laboratories will contribute many key capabilities for Internet research including optical networks, wireless/RF communications, the Internet of Things (IoT), Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and cloud computing.