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Division of Computer and Network Systems

See program guidelines for contact information.

Computer and communication networks need to be available anytime and anywhere, and be accessible from any device. Networks need to evolve over time to incorporate new technologies, support new classes of applications and services, and meet new requirements and challenges; networks need to scale and adapt to unforeseen events and uncertainties across multiple dimensions, including types of applications, size and topology, mobility patterns, and heterogeneity of devices and networking technologies. Networks need to be easily controllable and manageable, resource and energy efficient, and secure and resilient to failures and attacks. The Networking Technology and Systems (NeTS) program supports transformative research on fundamental scientific and technological advances in networking as well as systems research leading to the development of future-generation, high-performance networks and future Internet architectures.

A number of recent reports have highlighted research challenges and opportunities in networking technologies and systems (e.g., see the reports from the Workshops on Scaling Terabit Networks,, and Future Directions in Wireless Networking,

NeTS proposals should address problems that are appropriate to the NeTS Core Area, to one of the current Highlighted Areas, or to the bridging area of networked systems. Note that proposals that address problems in the NeTS highlighted areas are not targeted for special handling or funding -- they simply represent emerging areas or areas of current national interest.

In addition CNS invites proposals that bridge the research areas of CSR and NeTS. Some of the topics specified below in the NeTS core program description, along with others, are in the realm of “networked systems,” requiring innovations and expertise in both networking and computer systems. CNS welcomes proposals on these topics, which cross the CSR and NeTS core programs -- and PIs are encouraged to specify proposal titles that begin with “CSR: NeTS:” (see the Proposal Preparation Instructions for details). These proposals will be considered for co-review by the two CNS core programs as appropriate.

NeTS proposals are strongly encouraged to include validation plans that describe mechanisms to assess success of the proposed research efforts.

NeTS Core Area

The NeTS program seeks fundamental scientific understanding of and advances in large-scale, complex, heterogeneous communications networks, including, but not limited to, home, enterprise, data center, cloud, and Internet or Internet-scale networks, and in the wireless areas of cellular, vehicular, mesh, sensor, body area, and underwater networks. NeTS seeks novel frameworks, architectures, protocols, methodologies, and tools for the design and analysis, development, operation, and management of robust and highly dependable networks, including autonomous networks in which the need for human intervention is minimal. The program also seeks projects that enable energy-efficient operation with low control and communication overhead in wireless networks.

NeTS Highlighted Areas:

For this solicitation, there are six highlighted areas: Meta-Networking Research, Network Management, Optical Networks, Protocols for Pervasive Wireless Networking, Support of Next-Generation Virtualized Networks, and Wireless Networking Architectures. These six areas are described below.

  • Meta-Networking Research

    There is a vital need for methodologies for scientific evaluation of wired and wireless communication networks that include an understanding of network instrumentation and measurements as well as the development of rigorous scientific methods for planning and assessing networking experiments. There is also the need for approaches that advance the state of the art in the verification of correctness of network configurations.
  • Network Management

    In this highlight area, NeTS invites innovative solutions to the problems of network management, such as diagnostics, debugging, provisioning and operations of wired and wireless networks, spanning networks in “talent-poor” or “talent-constrained” environments such as homes, small businesses, rural networks and small providers, and distributed enterprises. NSF also invites innovative solutions to problems of providing individuals with accurate user-appropriate information on network performance and impairments with a view to informing users of network behavior and potential bottlenecks. NSF is looking for novel semantics to describe and reproduce network state and evolution especially in the domains of optical, home access networks, and spectrum-agile wireless networks.
  • Optical Networking

    NeTS invites transformational optical networking proposals that radically change the limits to communication networks. NeTS is especially interested in proposals that combine photonic integrated circuits with innovation in network architectures to produce systems such as inexpensive optical terabit-per-second “Ethernets” capable of integrating computation, storage, data-gathering, and visualization. Such research might achieve multiple terabit-per-second performance for many users but at power, cost, and form factors comparable to 10 gigabits per second Ethernet. NSF reminds prospective proposers that the US Government has announced a competition for the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI; In the timeframe associated with this solicitation, the IP-IMI should be considered as a resource for fabrication services, tools, and packaging.
  • Protocols for Pervasive Wireless Networking

    Advances in hardware and computing systems are promising an innovative suite of higher-layer services that can be deployed using wireless communications as a seamless enabler. In order for this promise to be realized, novel wireless protocols need to be developed, going far beyond the current state of the art. In this highlight area, NeTS invites innovative proposals in the area of protocols for wireless communication and networking addressing one or more of the following goals:

    • Reducing the typical latencies experienced in wireless networks by two-orders of magnitude;
    • Supporting security and privacy of mobile users and applications above and beyond the physical layer;
    • Enabling pervasive connectivity via spectrum-hopping across multiple gigahertz of wireless spectrum;
    • Reducing mobile-device network interface energy consumption by more than an order of magnitude without compromising user functionality; and
    • Enabling innovative higher layer services that exploit the lower-layer network functions.
  • Support of Next-Generation Virtualized Networks and Infrastructure

    Software Defined Networking (SDN) and more generally Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) have recently become the major drivers of network innovation, enabling novel network functionality, in both the wired and wireless domains. In this highlight area, NeTS welcomes proposals that are transformative for the technologies associated with SDN/SDI and their uses. Examples of topic areas include:

    • Techniques for mapping of applications onto virtualized infrastructure such that security, performance, resilience and other properties are preserved;
    • Management of virtualized infrastructure, especially in cases where the virtualized infrastructure is dynamically changing;
    • Next-generation protocols for control of virtualized infrastructure; and
    • Novel virtualization techniques for wireless networks spanning the home, access, enterprise and cellular network domains.
  • Wireless Network Architectures

    A diverse multitude of wireless network architectures are emerging that challenge conventional wireless network and communication design principles, and are associated with novel physical-layer techniques and technological trends. Examples of novel technologies enabling new architectures include, but are not limited to:

    • Ultra-wideband millimeter-wave networks spanning frequencies above 20 gigahertz;
    • Free-space optics and visible light communications;
    • High-bandwidth, frequency-agile, airborne communication platforms (manned/unmanned), e.g., drones, high-altitude balloons/aircraft, etc.;
    • Pervasive machine to machine communications at large scale;
    • Highly functional, energy-harvesting, ultra-low power sensors capable of perpetual operation; and
    • Dynamic spectrum access enabled by cognitive radios.

Through this highlight area, NeTS invites proposals that address foundational aspects of wireless network architecture associated with these novel technologies, as well as proposals that incorporate these technologies into network architectures designed from scratch unconstrained by current network assumptions. NeTS welcomes proposals that are able to address key questions relating to information availability, reliability, and security, while supporting a rich set of higher layer services. Proposers should consider critical operational parameters such as throughput/latency requirements, location management, identity management, user privacy, user mobility, power/energy constraints, network heterogeneity, spectral agility, and at-scale behavior.

For the NeTS core and highlighted areas, proposers may consider ways to interoperate with one of the three Future Internet Architecture – Next Phase (FIA-NP) projects. See for information about these projects.

Networking Technology and Systems (NeTS) Staff

Funding Opportunities for the Networking Technology and Systems (NeTS) Program:

Computer and Network Systems (CNS): Core Programs.  NSF 15-572

Computer and Network Systems (CNS): Core Programs


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