White House rolls out $400m 5G networks research program

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With a view to facilitate the development of 5G wireless networks across the US, the White House has launched a $400 million Advanced Wireless Research Initiative (AWRI) led by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The announcement follows the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Spectrum Frontiers vote to open high-frequency millimetre wave spectrum for both licensed and unlicensed use.

At the 2015 State of the Union, President Obama said, “Twenty-first century businesses need 21st century infrastructure—modern ports, and stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest Internet…I intend to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”

The AWRI will facilitate the deployment and utilisation of four city-scale testing platforms over the next 10 years. Funding for the initiative is being provided by the NSF and private sector players in the US wireless industry. A number of these wireless companies in addition to associations such as the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions and the Telecommunications Industry Association have also pledged to make contributions to the testing platforms.

At present, 4G/LTE coverage has been extended to over 98% of US citizens and efforts at deploying 5G technology will provide faster speeds, lower latency and an increase in capacity for future wireless networks. The efforts will positively impact users of mobile phones and tablets; first responders and emergency room doctors; semi- or fully-autonomous vehicles; smart factories; wireless broadband users and virtual reality training environments and simulators.

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