white houseFour city-wide initiatives will be a key part of President Obama’s Advanced Wireless Research Initiative (AWRI), announced today. The initiative, which has the support of numerous communications companies and communications industry organizations, aims to spur the development of technology to support fifth generation wireless networks.

The move came just one day after the FCC voted to make a huge swathe of spectrum in the high-frequency millimeter wave band available for 5G wireless networks.

In a fact sheet, the White House noted that the U.S. had great success in developing and commercializing 4G networks, in part, because the country made spectrum available in advance of other countries and established flexible-use rules and, in part, because of “sustained federal investments in fundamental academic research that leads to technology breakthroughs that drive growth in the American economy.”

The Advanced Wireless Research Initiative
Four hundred million dollars in funding for the Advanced Wireless Research Initiative will come from the National Science Foundation, including $50 million which will go toward public/private development of the four-city wireless testing platform, and $350 million for academic research using the platform. The $350 million will be allocated over a period of seven years.

The total cost of developing the four-city wireless testing platform is expected to be $85 million, with the private sector covering some of the costs. As the fact sheet explains “[e]ach platform will deploy a network of software-defined radio antennas city-wide, essentially mimicking the existing cellular network, allowing academic researchers, entrepreneurs and wireless companies to test, prove and refine their technologies and software algorithms in a real-world setting.”

The fact sheet also notes that “[t]hese platforms will allow researchers to conduct at-scale experiments of laboratory-or-campus-based proofs-of-concept, and will also allow four American cities, chosen based on open competition, to establish themselves as global destinations for wireless research and development.”

The NSF also will be funding two prize challenges aimed at enhancing wireless broadband connectivity. One will focus on providing “rapid, large-scale wireless connectivity to restore critical communication services in the aftermath of a disaster.” The other will “seek innovative solutions to provide low-cost, seamless connectivity in urban areas, leveraging fiber optics on overhead poles.”

Industry Support
Numerous manufacturers and all four nationwide wireless service providers have agreed to donate communications equipment and connectivity to support the AWRI, and some also have pledged monetary support. Participating companies include:

  • AT&T
  • Carlson Wireless
  • CommScope
  • HTC
  • Intel
  • InterDigital
  • Juniper Networks
  • Keysight Technologies
  • National Instruments
  • Nokia/ Nokia Bell Labs
  • Oracle
  • Qualcomm
  • Samsung
  • Shared Spectrum
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • Verizon
  • Viavi Solutions

Several communications industry associations will be providing engineering and/or technical assistance in support of AWRI, including:

  •  The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions
  • CTIA – The Wireless Association
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association

Although not listed on the fact sheet, USIgnite said in an email that it also will be participating in the AWRI initiative.