IEEE International Black Sea Conference on Communications and Networking
24–28 May 2021 // Virtual Conference


Tuesday (25 May 2021) – 15:00-16:00 EEST

Keynote 1

Prof. Roberto Saracco

University of Trento, Trento, Italy


Digital Transformation: leveraging on current network infrastructures and setting requirements for future ones


The Digital Transformation is ongoing. Actually, it accelerated because of the pandemic and the current infrastructures have been tested as never before. The talk will start considering the current -increased- use of infrastructures and then consider the requirements the DX is placing on new ones, taking a look at expected device evolution that in turns are likely to place more demands on the infrastructures. Both hard and soft infrastructures will be considered, taking into account the work being done in the Digital Reality Initiative at IEEE/FDC and the work carried out in the Gia-X initiative at the Eu level. 5G and its evolution along with the increased use of Digital Twins (and their evolution into Personal/Cognitive Digital Twins) will be discussed. Overall, the aim of the talk is to design an evolution scenario where cyberspace and physical space merge into a single Digital Reality made possible by a pervasive communication fabric.


Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America.  He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento and serves as Senior Advisor of the Reply Group. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality fostering Digital Transformation Initiative. He is a COMSOC Distinguished Lecturer and in 2021 he is Chair Elect for the New Initiative Committee. He has published over 200 papers in journals and magazines and 30 books/ebooks. He writes a daily blog,, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.

Wednesday (26 May 2021) – 15:00-16:00 EEST

Keynote 2

Prof. Jelena Mišić

Department of Computer Science at
Ryerson University, Canada


Adapting PBFT for use with blockchain-enabled IoT systems


This work proposes Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) ordering service needed for block formation in permissioned blockchain environments. Contrary to current PBFT implementations that only provide a single point of entry to the ordering service, we allow each ordering node to act as an entry point that proposes and conducts the consensus process of including new record in the distributed ledger. To ensure atomicity of record insertion in distributed ledger, we have developed a bandwidth reservation protocol that uses a modification of CSMA/CA protocol to regulate access to the broadcast medium formed by the P2P network of TCP connections between orderers. We have modeled record insertion service time in a cluster where ordering nodes have random position within Cartesian coordinate system. We have also modeled total request access time to the ledger which includes waiting time in the ordered’s queue and record insertion time. These models are used to evaluate system performance under variable request rate ordering service, variable number of nodes and variable physical cluster dimensions. We also address cluster interconnections which can increase coverage and capacity of PBFT system.


Jelena Mišić is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Ryerson University, Canada. She received her PhD in Computer Engineering from University of Belgrade, Serbia, in 1993. She is an internationally recognized expert in the area of IoT, blockchain, wireless networking and network security, where she has authored or co-authored four books, 145+ journal papers, 24 book chapters, and 200+ conference papers. She has chaired more than a dozen major international events and guest-edited more than a dozen special issues of various journals. She serves on the editorial boards of IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, IEEE Internet of Things Journal, IEEE Network, and Ad Hoc Networks journal (published by Elsevier). She is IEEE Fellow, ACM member and serves as IEEE VTS distinguished lecturer.

Thursday (27 May 2021) – 15:00-16:00 EEST

Keynote 3

Baris I. Erkmen, 

Wireless Optical Communications Lead, 

X (formerly Google[x])


Next-generation wireless: Connecting the world with Taara Wireless Optical Communications (WOC)


Broadband connectivity has been fueling a steady enrichment of our lives for the past few decades, in education, commerce, health, and work. Consumption of data has been on an exponential growth curve during this period, doubling approximately every 18 to 24 months. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated this growth; just a few months into 2020, internet usage had surged by 70%. Fifth-generation (5G) wireless rollout is in progress in most of the world to keep up with our demand for data, and projections for sixth-generation (6G) wireless predict up to a thousand-fold increase in mobile traffic by 2030.

Yet our global connectivity infrastructure suffers from persistent disparities. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 report, less than 10% of households in low-income countries subscribe to fixed broadband, compared to 70% in middle-income and 90% in high-income countries, respectively. Overall, about half of the world’s population (approximately 4B people) do not have access to affordable and abundant broadband connectivity. Billions more remain under-connected today, as our internet infrastructure strains to keep up with increasing data demands.

In this talk, we will discuss Wireless Optical Communication (WOC) and its pioneering role in a future where ubiquitous broadband internet will be accessible and affordable to everyone on the planet. We will introduce WOC fundamentals, with a focus on the technology pillars of Taara’s WOC design that have allowed us to balance performance with cost-effective manufacturing. We will conclude with examples from our real-world deployments that demonstrate the impact of this innovative technology when applied to the global connectivity challenge.


Dr. Baris I. Erkmen has been active in the development of advanced optical communication and sensing systems for nearly two decades. He is presently the Engineering Lead of Project Taara at X, focused on delivering abundant and affordable internet by pioneering wireless optical communication technology. His past responsibilities include Principal Investigator for NASA’s OPALS laser communication demonstration from the International Space Station (2009-2013), and Engineering Lead for Free-Space Optical Communications demonstrations on Project Loon (2013-2016). Baris’s interests encompass the application of both classical and quantum properties of light to enhance communication and sensing capabilities for terrestrial, airborne, and spaceborne systems.