Efforts to upgrade U.S. communications infrastructure to 5G technology got a big boost from the federal government today. The Obama Administration just announced the launch of a $400 million Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, led by the National Science Foundation (NSF), designed to accelerate the deployment of next-generation wireless technology.
The program will invest in efforts by researchers experimenting with and testing novel technologies, applications and services capable of making wireless communication faster, smarter, more responsive and more robust over the next seven years, according to the NSF.
100 Times Faster
The move from 4G to 5G wireless technology is expected to increase data speeds by as much as 100 times. Today’s news follows yesterday’s 5-0 Spectrum Frontiers vote by the FCC to make spectrum bands higher than 24 GHz available for 5G.
“That vote made the United States the first country in the world to make vast quantities of high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum available for both licensed and unlicensed use,” the White House said in a statement. “This spectrum, in combination with other spectrum already available, promises to enable faster speeds, quicker response times (lower latency), and increased capacity in future wireless networks.”
The Advanced Wireless Research Initiative includes an $85 million investment in advanced wireless testing platforms through a public-private effort, including the NSF and more than 20 technology companies and associations, according to the White House.
It also calls for the NSF to invest an additional $350 million over the next seven years in academic research that can utilize those testing platforms, and complementary efforts by other federal agencies. “These platforms, and the fundamental research supported on them, will allow academics, entrepreneurs, and the wireless industry to test and develop advanced wireless technology ideas, some of which may translate into key future innovations for 5G and beyond,” the White House said.
Gigabit-Speed Wireless Networks
As a part of its investment, the NSF also announced a $5 million solicitation for a project office to manage the design, development, deployment, and operations of the testing platforms, in collaboration with the NSF and industry entities.
Each platform will deploy a network of software-defined radio antennas citywide, essentially mimicking the existing cellular network, allowing academic researchers, entrepreneurs, and wireless companies to test, prove, and refine their technologies and software algorithms in real-world settings.
These platforms will allow researchers to conduct at-scale experiments of laboratory-based 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 Obama Administration said.
Among the possible advances the White House is hoping its 5G initiative will bring are data speeds fast enough to allow mobile devices to download full length HD movies in less than five seconds, live-streaming video to emergency rooms from police vehicles, ambulances, and drones, fully autonomous vehicles that can communicate with networks in real time and gigabit-speed wireless broadband networks.