Telecommunication and Signal Processing
Under the Objective I programme of the European Community and the Walloon
Region (1995-2000), the Electromagnetism and Telecommunications Department
(Prof. M. Blondel) and the Theory of Circuits and Signal Processing Department
(Prof. H. Leich) of the Faculté Polytechnique de Mons (FPM) received funds
for a series of projects under the generic name "MULTITEL".
These projects enabled an independent centre of excellence to be set up in the
province of Hainaut, available to businesses, with the general aim of restoring
the dynamism of the province's potential.
At the end of 1999, "MULTITEL" acquired the status of a research centre in the
form of a non-profit organisation, which should be able to finance itself in
the longer term. This constitutes both a fascinating challenge and a guarantee,
for businesses, of the applied nature of the work carried out by MULTITEL.
The fields covered by MULTITEL are:
· optical telecommunications;
· access networks;
· business data networks and public telecommunication networks;
· sound and image compression;
· speech technologies (speech synthesis, recognition of speech and the
So, from 1995 to 1999, around one hundred companies were assisted to varying
degrees, ranging from staff training to the creation of prototypes of
Based on the initial results of research, and the know-how of the university
teams, from 1997, a spin-off known as "BABEL Technologies" was set up to
exploit the activities carried out in the field of voice signal processing.
This currently employs ten people, and a significant expansion of its
activities is planned for the next 4 years, mainly in the export field.
Multitel has set up a financial holding company "La Financière de Mons",
whose role is to provide financial support for initiatives relating to our
Today, the research centre has a budget of 900 million BEF from European funds,
for the period 2001-2006 of phasing-out.
These funds are intended for the exploitation of the research results, and are
aimed at ensuring the longer-term existence of the centre of excellence.
The areas of activity of the centre will be supplemented by the presence of a
team from the Telecommunication and Teledetection laboratory at the University
of Louvain (Professor B. MACQ), which will be developing activities in the
field of image transmission and copyright labelling.
"MULTITEL" is a centre of excellence and consultancy, consisting of a
multi-disciplinary team of around forty people, including engineers, scientists
and technicians, plus a commercial structure which aims, among other things, to
devise and integrate innovative projects with local businesses as well as
collaborating in the European context. This team works closely with the
academic staff of the FPM.
All the resources and competencies described below are available to assist
industrial clients to carry out innovative projects using technological
solutions in telecommunications and digital signal processing, whether this
· pure consultancy or audit;
· feasibility studies;
· drawing up specifications;
· metrology (in the laboratory or on-site);
· prototype development;
· provision of algorithms suited to their applications;
· implementation on specific components;
· training in all the innovative technologies that form the competencies
of the centre.
The "MULTITEL" centre has built its research activities around 7 themes:
· Processing of mono-dimensional signals, with general themes such as
digital filtering, spectral analysis, estimation, in various application areas
and in particular, all the telecommunications-related aspects.
· Voice technologies in the broadest sense, i.e. including voice
synthesis, recognition of speech and the speaker, as well as sound and speech
encoding. Our achievements and developments relate mainly to:
o voice synthesis of a text that includes a natural language processing phase
(phonetic transcription of the text with automatic generation of the prosody)
followed by a signal processing phase (conversion of the result of the previous
phase into a sound signal). For this second phase, the centre uses an original
synthesis method patented under the name MBROLA. Over 20 languages are
available. Both phases are included in the multi-lingual and multi-platform
o voice recognition, for which Multitel's background allows rapid
development of applications according to various constraints, such as:
· the format of words to be recognised: isolated words, strings of words,
· the degree of dependence on the speaker: mono and multi-speaker;
· the size of the vocabulary;
· conditions of use: noisy environments, transmission channels.
· Processing of a bidimensional signal, including compression and pattern
recognition. Based on the use of neural networks, the recognition techniques
developed are mainly oriented towards the reading of pre-defined forms,
completed in handwriting.
· Technological solutions for signal processing with the production of
specialised boards and the implementation of specific algorithms developed
using emerging technologies like DSP, RISC microcontrollers and CPLD and FPGA
· Telecommunications by optical fibres: optical metrology, in the
laboratory and on-site, WDM technology (Wavelength Division Multiplexing), in
order to increase the transmission capacity of installed networks, and using
entirely optical amplification and fibre optic networks.
· Access networks (TV cable, wireless, telephony, energy networks):
metrology in the laboratory and on-site, from the physical layer to the upper
layers of the OSI model; interconnection of the world of cable TV with the
world of telecommunications.
· Business data networks and public telecommunications networks:
management of corporate networks (development of an audit methodology, remote
management, evaluation of tools, study of strategies for upgrading local
networks), security of business networks (network audit methodology, hardware
evaluation), wide area networks using, among others, ATM, IP and Frame Relay
For all the themes developed above, the expertise results in the existence of
toolkits which allow rapid development of demonstrators targeted at a given
application. In addition, the Centre of Excellence has acquired a number of
more generic commercial software packages for simulating the applications