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Emerging Technologies in ComSoc

Khaled B. Letaief

Khaled B. Letaief

Past President


Jeffrey Andrews

Jeffrey Andrews

Chair, Emerging Technologies Committee


The Communications Society (ComSoc) is a global professional community working together to create cutting-edge communications and networking technologies for the benefit of humanity through our high quality publications, premier conferences, technology standards, and educational activities. To stay ahead, it is vital for ComSoc to continuously target new technologies by identifying and encouraging the incubation of emerging technologies and new applications of current technologies.

This month’s President’s Page is shared with Jeffrey Andrews, my appointee as ComSoc’s Chair of the Emerging Technologies Committee for 2018-19, who will share with us the ongoing activities and plans for this important standing committee.

Jeffrey Andrews is the Cullen Trust Endowed Professor of ECE at the University of Texas at Austin. He has also worked actively in industry, including at Qualcomm and Intel, as well as a consultant to Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm, Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Intel, Microsoft and NASA. He is on the Technical Advisory Board of Artemis Networks and GenXComm, and is co-author of books on WiMAX and LTE. He has served ComSoc with distinction, including as the Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications (20142016) and as technical program co-chair of IEEE Globecom 2014, among many other leadership roles.

Dr. Andrews is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher and has been co-recipient of paper awards including the 2016 IEEE Communications Society & Information Theory Society Joint Paper Award, the 2014 IEEE Stephen O. Rice Prize, the 2014 and 2018 IEEE Leonard G. Abraham Prize, the 2011 and 2016 IEEE Heinrich Hertz Prize, and the 2010 IEEE ComSoc Best Tutorial Paper Award. He received the 2015 Terman Award, the NSF CAREER Award, is an IEEE Fellow, and received the 2019 IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu technical field award. He holds a Ph.D. from Stanford.

What Is the Emerging Technologies Committee (ETC)?

The ETC is a standing committee reporting directly to the ComSoc Technical and Educational Activities Council. The ETC’s mandate is to identify and nurture new technology directions of interest to ComSoc members. The main way this is done is by forming a new Emerging Technology Initiative (ETI) around a focused topic of interest. ETIs immediately become official ComSoc entities with a webpage, an ability to have dedicated sessions at Globecom and ICC within the Selected Areas on Communications (SAC) track, as well as preferential access to JSAC special issues and other ComSoc institutions. Successful ETIs bring together ComSoc members to generate innovation and excitement around an emerging topic, and can become a full Technical Committee (TC) in ComSoc, merge with an existing TC to form a new TC, or become a dedicated Special Interest Group (SIG) within an existing TC.

The ETC is comprised of the Chair, six appointed members, and three ex-officio members: the JSAC EIC (Raouf Boutaba), Communications Magazine EIC (Tarek El-Bawab), and a member of the ComSoc Strategic Planning Committee (Michele Zorzi). The current appointed members were chosen to maximize technical breadth and have diverse insights into emerging technologies. They are Thyaga Nandagopal (NSF, USA), Mathias Fischer (Univ. Hamburg, Germany), Charlie Zhang (Samsung, USA), Vincenzo Sciancalepore (NEC Labs, Germany), Meryem Simsek (ICSI Berkeley, USA), and Marco di Renzo (Paris-Saclay Univ., France).

Current EmergIng Technology Initiatives

The current ETIs and ETI Chair are as follows, starting from most recently formed:

  • Machine Learning for Communications,  Jakob Hoydis
  • Full Duplex Communications, Gabor Fodor
  • Network Intelligence, Imen Gridabenyahia
  • Quantum Communications and Information Technology, Lajos Hanzo
  • Backhaul/Fronthaul Networking and Communications, Zeeshan Shakir
  • Internet of Things, Latif Ladid

Two ETIs were also very recently promoted to ComSoc Technical Committees, which are the Smart Grid Communications ETI led by Angela Zhang, and the Molecular, Biological and Multiscale Communications ETI led by Tadasi Nakano.  

These ETIs are engaged in wide-ranging and impactful activities spanning the full spectrum of ComSoc activities from basic research (workshops, journal and magazine special issues) to industry standardization of these technologies via IEEE and 3GPP. As another example, the Machine Learning for Communications ETI is developing a central repository for communications-focused datasets, which are a crucial but currently lacking resource for researchers and practitioners.

How (and Why!) You Can Start an Initiative

Starting a new initiative is fun and easy! The main necessary ingredient is enthusiasm and knowledge about an emerging topic and a willingness to bring other people excited about the topic together. You are welcome to email Jeffrey Andrews anytime with any idea. You are also encouraged to visit the ETC webpage (just search “ComSoc Emerging Technologies”) and there you will find detailed but simple instructions on the few steps necessary to propose and form a new ETI. Forming and leading an ETI is a great way to quickly get visibility and ComSoc resources for an emerging topic, and to establish leadership credentials in this topic. We also are encouraging Technical Committees to participate in forming new ETIs, which if appropriate, could be affiliated and mentored by one or more TCs. Going forward, TCs will be notified of new ETIs and possible new ETIs in order to better harmonize activities in the ETC with the existing set of TCs in ComSoc.

How Does the ETC Relate to IEEE and ComSoc Level Initiatives?

Some ComSoc members may have noticed a variety of initiatives around emerging topics floating around that may not be from the ETC described above. The ETC is the mechanism for “bottom up”, grassroots initiatives. The IEEE also occasionally pushes initiatives, usually cross-disciplinary ones, that have some intersection with ComSoc. Recent examples include Green Information and Communications Technology, Big Data, and the Internet of Things. Confusingly, we also have had ComSoc ETIs with the same names, that have no direct relation to these “top down” initiatives.

At the direction of ComSoc President Letaief, an Ad Hoc Committee on Future Directions and Initiatives was established in 2018. The Committee is led by Paul Hartmann and has the following members: Roberto de Marca, Jeff Andrews, Roberto Saracco, Heinrich Stuettgen, Jaafar Elmirghani, and Adam Greenberg from the ComSoc staff. The Committee has been working to determine how ComSoc should best manage and leverage these different sources of initiatives on emerging technologies, while minimizing overlap and confusion. The Committee has completed a proposal to establish a ComSoc Standing Committee reporting to the Board of Governors that was presented to the Board of Governors at ICC in Shanghai in May 2019.

We Look Forward to Your Contribution

The Emerging Technologies Committee is a platform for any ComSoc member to start a new initiative, research community, or ComSoc entity around a new technology or research direction they are passionate about but is not currently well-covered by ComSoc. Please contact the ETC Chair or any member of the ETC for more information.