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Obama Administration Pledges More Than $400 Million Towards 5G Research

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We’ve all been anticipating the arrival of 5G for sometime now, and with the FCC’s passage of the Spectrum Frontiers vote last week, it seems like this just might be kicking into high gear. On Friday, the Obama administration pledged more than $400 million towards 5G research as part of the Advanced Wireless Research Initiative (AWRI). The administration has said that the move is aimed to maintain U.S leadership and win the next generation of mobile technology.

The AWRI is led by the National Science Foundation with participation from other organizations such as Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Intel. “The NSF has a long history of sustained investments in fundamental research in networking technologies, going back over the last decade and more, and we expect this legacy to continue through the commitments being announced today,” an NSF spokesperson said.

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The AWRI will receive the $400 million over the next seven years to test and develop new wireless networking technology in four “city scale” testing platforms. In addition to the AWRI, Congress also voted on a number of other network related moves, such as approving a plan to free up  high frequency millimeter wave spectrum for licensed and unlicensed use. “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 AWRI said.

This move is intended to go far beyond faster network speeds, although constitutes a large portion of it. THE AWRI is also hoping to look at other applications where we could be using wireless technology further down the road.  An official press release from The White House lists a number of possible advances in the next decade.that would require 5G technology:

  • Mobile phones and tablets that can download full length HD movies in less than 5 seconds, 100 times faster than 4G (6 minutes) and 25,000 times faster than 3G (26 hours).
  • First responders and emergency room doctors who get live, real-time video and sensor data from police vehicles, ambulances, and drones, along with patient vitals and medical records—all before the patient arrives at the hospital door.
  • Semi- or fully-autonomous vehicles that can communicate with the outside world and with each other to improve travel efficiency and safety.
  • Factories equipped with always-connected smart manufacturing equipment that self-diagnose and repair themselves before they break.
  • Gigabit-speed wireless broadband available in businesses, public transportation stations, stadiums, campuses, schools, malls, parks, and other public spaces.
  • Virtual reality training environments and simulators that allow entry-level workers to develop and demonstrate skills in high-demand fields like solar energy installation—anytime, from anywhere.

5G is expected to be roughly 100 times faster than our current networks. This will allow for speeds that we currently receive from wired fiber-optic cables over wireless networks.  “These super-fast, ultra-low latency, high-capacity networks will enable breakthrough applications for consumers, smart cities, and the Internet of Things that cannot even be imagined today,” says the Government’s Press release.



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