July 19, 2016 — The Obama Administration launched a $400 million public/private Advanced Wireless Research Initiative this week, in which the National Science Foundation and more than 20 technology companies and private-sector associations will invest $85 million in four city-scale, public-private testing platforms to support fundamental research on advanced wireless technologies.
The fundamental research supported on these platforms—including $350 million in NSF academic research over the next seven years that can utilize the testing platforms—will allow academics, entrepreneurs, and the wireless industry to test and develop advanced wireless technology ideas at-scale, some of which may translate into key future innovations for next-generation, 5G networks and beyond.
“As part of this Initiative, cities and communities will collaborate with university researchers and technology companies to research, develop, and deploy cutting-edge technologies in their communities using the new research platforms as a catalyst, which in turn will help drive new opportunities for innovation, high-skilled jobs, high-growth startups, and smart, connected community services,” the White House wrote.
The funding initiative is designed to build on the FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers order, which made the United States the first country in the world to make high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum available for both licensed and unlicensed use.
If $400 million seems like a lot of money. To put that into perspective, the European Union just pumped $768.84 million into the 5G Public Private Partnership, which is charged with advancing the next generation wireless technologies. Another $3.3 billion of private money is expected to be invested into the partnership.