White House to invest $400m in 5G research

The National Science Foundation will lead the research, deploying advanced wireless testing platforms in four US cities.

A day after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved large swaths of high-band spectrum for 5G networks, the Obama administration announced it's investing $400m to conduct research of next-generation wireless technology.

The Advanced Wireless Research Initiative will be led by the National Science Foundation (NSF). To form a basis for its research, the NSF is spending $50m over the next five years to design and build four city-wide advanced wireless testing platforms.

Each platform will deploy a network of software-defined radio antennas. They will effectively mimic the cities' existing cellular networks, allowing academic researchers, entrepreneurs, and wireless companies to test and refine different technologies and software algorithms in a real-world setting. The NSF will choose four US cities in which to build the platforms through a competition.

The government's investment will be supplemented with $35m in support from the wireless industry, which comes in the form of cash and pledges, to help design and deploy the platforms. Several companies are contributing to the effort, including AT&T, HTC, Carlson Wireless Technologies, Verizon, T-Mobile, Nokia, Qualcomm, Oracle, and Samsung.

The majority of the NSF money, about $350m, will be spent over the next seven years on fundamental research that will make use of the city-wide platforms.

"This will allow a broad base of NSF-funded experiments on potential breakthrough technologies to be taken from proof-of-concept to real-world testing at scale, here in the US," the White House said in a fact sheet.

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