CNS: Networking Technology and Systems (NeTS)

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Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.


The NeTS program seeks fundamental scientific understanding of and advances in large-scale, complex, heterogeneous communications networks, including, but not limited to, internet of things (IoT), home, edge, enterprise, data center, cloud, and Internet or Internet-scale networks, and in the wireless areas of cellular, vehicular, mesh, sensor, body area, satellite, and underwater networks. NeTS support research in wired and wireless technologies including terabit Ethernet, optical, radio, and acoustic visible light-based communication, and quantum. NeTS seeks novel frameworks, architectures, protocols, methodologies and experimental approaches including measurement 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 for networks.

Note: Some projects might be appropriate for joint consideration by NeTS and CSR and may be submitted to either program for joint review.


What is NOT within scope for the NeTS program

The following are typically not supported by the NeTS program and unless discussed in advance with a NeTS program director before submission, will be considered for Return Without Review (RWR):

  • Research that resides primarily at the device or application layer or are highly context-specific;
  • Intelligent transportation systems unless the focus of the research is on an enabling communication network;
  • Social networks unless the research has a direct connection to communication networking research;
  • Network science that does not specifically focus on an engineered communication networks; and
  • Projects, including those with sensors, that do not explicitly focus on networking problems and challenges. 


Wired Networking

As noted above wired networking focuses on such networks as IoT, home, edge, enterprise, data center, cloud, and Internet or Internet-scale networks including wide-area, metropolitan-area, as well as back-haul and wired access networks.  Projects may explore fundamental principles and create innovative networking technologies, protocols, and systems that define the future or—more realistically—harness current and emerging technologies, trends, and applications. They may produce practical abstractions, techniques, tools, artifacts, or datasets that address/enhance both general and functional requirements. Network systems proposals are expected to demonstrate a clear understanding of what each component does and how it interfaces with the rest of the system and the environment.

Projects appropriate for wired part of NeTS are not limited to the following suggested topics. Rather researchers are also encouraged to address other pressing and challenging networking areas of research. NeTS invites proposals in the broad area of wired networks. For example, the program:

  • Encourages research addressing networking challenges that come with emerging technologies including rethinking the protocol stack where necessary, new networking paradigms, protocols, and required new hardware approaches for networks enabled and demanded, for example, by optical networking,  quantum computing and communication, and terabit to petabit Ethernet.
  • Invites proposals that address research relevant to commercial trends that are expected to impact future networks such as cloud repatriation--where companies are moving their cloud service back in-house and require networks that are secure-by-construction, cost-efficient and agile. Another trend is multi-cloud networking which, for example, may leverage understanding and principles of the massive scale and distributed nature of the Internet in this context.
  • Supports projects that address on-going trends such as in-networking computing and storage, networking in disaggregated system, and programmable networks.  There is also a need to scale data centers by a factor of ten or more and explore and mitigate the resulting networking roadblocks in hardware, software, and functionality through integrated designs, for example, in switches, memory, and protocols.
  • Includes projects that focus on application-aware networking, such as video and data streaming including for big science and artificial reality/virtual reality (AR/VR).  Projects might also include networking where constrained physical infrastructure, applications and security inform networking solutions such as in small Internet of things (IoT) or those which leverage knowledge from understanding the global Internet to improve and make more resilient large-scale networked applications.
  • Supports networking projects that focus on systems with inherent built-in security such as, for example, networking for critical-infrastructure SCADAs (supervised control and data acquisition) where verifiable networking is crucial as is security and domain knowledge of the system requiring the SCADA.
  • Welcomes new approaches for core networking functionality such as network management involving, for example, monitoring, measurement, and traffic engineering as well as improving network performance--including latency and quality of service (QoS),  increasing network resilience and energy efficiency.
  • Accepts the development and application of novel approaches, such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), applied to networking problems.
  • Encourages new approaches to creating dependable autonomous or self-driving networks, for example by replacing traditional methods with automated processes, especially those based on AI, ML and emerging methods as well as the use of network verification. Projects may address full-stack explainability including approaches where the provenance of every data/control flow dependency is well known.
  • Accepts projects focusing on end-to-end services that span edge to core to cloud, potentially integrating and optimizing across wired and wireless technologies and networks.  

Wireless Networking

NeTS invites proposals in the broad area of wireless communications networks.  These networks include edge, cellular and hybrid, mobile, vehicular, mesh, underwater, machine to machine, satellite, and IoT wireless networks.  The program:

  • Seeks systems research on novel architectures, protocols, and tools for the design, deployment, operation, and management of robust wireless networks;
  • Welcomes theoretical and artificial intelligence-based approaches for design and analysis of wireless communications networks, including establishment of performance limits and characterization of achievable trade-offs;
  • Supports holistic approaches to support efficient and dynamic resource allocation, usage, and sharing; seeks efficient and dynamic approaches to interference management and the coexistence of multiple co-located networks, potentially including different radio technologies and network protocols;
  • Funds research on wireless networks that utilize a multitude of emerging physical layer technologies. Examples include massive multi-input multi-output (MIMO) antenna systems, mmWave and higher bands networking, intelligent surfaces, dynamic spectrum access systems, free-space optics and visible light communications, high-bandwidth airborne and underwater communication platforms, and ultra-low latency wireless links; 
  • Seeks research on innovative higher-layer services that can be enabled by wireless communications, such as wireless localization, virtualization, mobile sensing, and spectrum measurement; and
  • Welcomes proposals that can address key questions relating to high throughput, low latency, pervasive connectivity, energy-efficiency information availability, reliability, resilience, and security, as well as the ability of the wireless network to satisfy the stringent requirements of emerging applications, such as AR/VR.


Proposers should present a solid plan for verification and validation of the proposed techniques. NeTS encourages over-the-air experimentation using NSF-funded infrastructure platforms when applicable.

NeTS and Closely-Related Programs: Projects that focus exclusively or primarily on cybersecurity threats and countermeasures may be a better fit for the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program. Projects focused primarily on design or enhancement of sensing and control systems that interact with the physical world may be a better fit for the Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) program.

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

Computer and Network Systems (CNS): Core Programs.  NSF 22-631

Program contacts

Alhussein A. Abouzeid (703) 292-8950 CISE/CNS
Darleen L. Fisher (703) 292-8950 CISE/CNS
Nicholas Goldsmith (703) 292-8950 CISE/CNS
Murat Torlak (703) 292-7748 CISE/CNS
Ann C. Von Lehmen (703) 292-4756 CISE/CNS

Awards made through this program

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Map of recent awards made through this program