Creating and sharing knowledge for telecommunications

IT Research Landmarks throughout time

Over its 22 years of existence, Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT) has made quite remarkable contributions for the advancement of Telecommunications, at world level. These contributions span all the thematic lines of IT: Wireless Communications, Optical Communications and Networks and Services.

  • 1992/1998
  • Cellular mobile broadband communications

    IT has integrated and actively contributed for the European consortia (in the FP4 framework program) that defined, developed and demonstrated the first world cellular mobile broadband system at millimeter-waves (40 GHz and 60 GHz) offering in 1998 about 40 Mbit/s gross bit rate per user and mobile speeds up to 60 km/h, the seed for modern 4G, 5G and multi-gigabit wireless networks. IT contributed with pioneering studies at these frequencies on channel modelling, modulation and coding, shaped beam antennas, and mm-wave head electronics. Among 19 partners, BBC, BT Labs, Daimler Benz, Deutsche Aerospace, BOSCH, Phillips France, Thomson, Alcatel, VTT, Telnor and Mitsubishi also integrated the consortia.

  • 1998/2003
  • MPEG-4 audiovisual coding standards

    IT contributed to the design and specification of the MPEG-4 audiovisual coding standards, which adopted for the first time an object-based representation approach. One member of IT has played the role of ISO/IEC MPEG Requirements Chair during the several years where these standards were shaped and developed. The MPEG-4 standards, notably H.264/AVC for video coding, have been widely adopted in digital television, Blu-ray storage, and mobile and Internet streaming, and strongly contributed to change the multimedia landscape.

  • 2008/2013
  • Vehicular mesh network

    IT In Porto led the development and deployment of the world's largest vehicular mesh network. This unique testbed includes 600+ connected taxis, buses, and trucks, which communicate with each other and with the Internet. Beyond expanding the city wireless connectivity by offering free WiFi to passengers in public buses, these connected vehicles also serve as mobile sensors gathering geo-referenced city data. Access to this real-world infrastructure allowed achieving several breakthroughs in the mechanisms that enable inter-vehicles communication and with the Internet in a heterogeneous network environment, including a new onboard communication unit, smart connection management and security solutions for connected vehicles.

  • Gallium Nitride (GaN) transistors in outer space

    ... IT contributed to the first European technology space mission to send European Gallium Nitride (GaN) transistors for the outer space to test its resilience to cosmic radiation. The device is flying in the Alphasat telecommunications satellite. It was a joint collaboration with EFACEC, Ferdinand Braun Institute, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik and ESA.

  • 2008/2014
  • Square kilometer array (SKA)

    IT joined in 2008 the international efforts to design and construct the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) – the world’s largest radio telescope and one of the largest scientific endeavors in history. With over 3000 antennas of 15-meter diameter and hundreds of Phased Array stations spread over Southern Africa and Australia, its resolution will exceed that of the Hubble Space Telescope by 50 times. IT was the Portuguese node of the PrepSKA project (Preparatory Phase) and currently IT participates in several approved Design Consortia, coordinating the installation of SKA prototypes in the South of Portugal, the design of the SKA Telescope Manager cyber-infrastructure and the inclusion of Green Power solutions in the SKA ICT backbone ICT project. Since 2014 IT is leading an approved SKA Research Infrastructure Consortium with Universities and assisted by an industrial Consortium with SMEs and Multinationals from ICT, Energy and Space sectors.

  • 2011/2012
  • Single-photon quantum fiber optic communication

    ... In June 2011, a group of IT researchers succeeded in establishing a single-photon quantum fiber optic communication systems, encoding the information in the photons polarization. In 2012, the same group was able to generate pairs of entangled photon pairs using spontaneous four-wave mixing in a high-nonlinear optical fiber. Since then, both single and entangled photons pairs have been used to implement and validate new quantum protocols developed by a theoretical group on quantum information and security of IT, aiming at increasing the trustfulness of future telecommunications networks.

  • 2013/2014
  • Record 20 Tbit/s data rate in a single fiber

    In alliance with a NICT (Japan) led by professor Wada, a fully loaded bidirectional Passive Optical Network (PON) handling 20 Tbit/s data rate in a single fiber was demonstrated. Such PON would allow virtually unlimited bandwidth to more than 50 thousand terminals. This work still stands as the ultimate full demo of such a high aggregated rate in a PON.

  • 2013/2015
  • Steering Board of the European Technology Platform

    IT integrated the Steering Board of the European Technology Platform (ETP) for Future Communications, Networks and Services – NetWorld2020. This ETP coordinates inside Europe industrial research and development on future communications, with the ambition of sustaining European leadership on mobile communications. The Steering Board includes manufacturers as Nokia, Siemens, Ericsson and Thales Alenia Space, operators as Portugal Telecom, Telefonica, France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom and research institutions where IT is included.

  • 2013/2015
  • BITalino biomedical development toolkit

    IT developed the award-winning low-cost hardware and open source toolkit BITalino (, recognised by the European Commission DG-CONNECT as the winner in the "Industrial and Enabling Tech" category at the Innovation Radar Prize 2017 (, which has been licensed to the Portuguese SME PLUX ( for commercial exploitation and is currently the platform of choice by thousands of users worldwide within academia (e.g. MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, ...) and industry (e.g. MathWorks, Intel, IBM, ...) for biomedical research, product development and education.

    (press release) and/or (see it in action)

  • 2015/2017
  • Inscsription record of Bragg gratings on plastic optical fibers

    A novel and consistent work on POF components has been developed over the years with relevant contributions to the field to pursue new sensors and expand the capacity of optical networks in buildings for new applications to arrive, such as 8k video. We developed and demonstrated, as a world’s first, the possibility of developing high quality sensors based on fibre Bragg gratings written in plastic fibers, with an inscription record of 30 seconds. This important milestone, paves the way to mass production of these filters for multiplexing of data in POF fibers enhancing their transmission capacity. In addition, other breakthroughs were developed, such as the first filter in the visible region for POFs, a simplified methodology for termination of the fiber etc.