Advanced Wireless Research Initiative to Develop 5G Networks

The Obama administration has announced its Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, a government-funded $400 million seven-year project aimed at developing 5G wireless networking technology, with speeds 100 times faster than today’s 4G and LTE networks. As stated, the project also wants to “maintain U.S. leadership and win the next generation of mobile technology.” The National Science Foundation will lead the project, and other commercial partners including Samsung and carriers will participate.

TechCrunch notes that the AWRI is “a direct result” of the recently passed FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers initiative and will rely on four “city-scale” testing platforms for its wireless networking developments. Congress also “approved a plan to free up high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum for both licensed and unlicensed use.”

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The AWRI notes that, “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 Verge quotes FCC chairman Tom Wheeler as saying, “I do believe this is one of the — if not the — most important decision this agency will make this year.”

After the FCC completes the work of the AWRI, there’s still another “part of the equation,” says The Verge. “Wireless companies have to develop the technology that makes 5G work. Most of the big names are already at work on that, and some — like AT&T and Verizon — are already beginning tests.”

All major U.S. carriers, along with HTC, Intel, Oracle, Nokia and Samsung, are partners in AWRI’s work. “These for-profit companies would like a seat at the table both to have a say in what will form the next set of standards, and an early start in staking out a claim for being the providers of those next-gen hardware and services,” says TechCrunch, which notes that Apple, Google and Microsoft are notably absent from the list of partners.

Faster wireless networks won’t just impact the 350 million devices in the U.S. today but other wireless applications such as “self-driving cars, IoT deployments in factories and elsewhere, fast networks for businesses, virtual reality and more.”