cellphone-1082246_1280 (1)The Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, led by the National Science Foundation (NSF), will attempt to advance the next generation of mobile technology.  It’s backed by the US government, a consortium of private companies, and a $400 million dollar war chest to start.

5G on the way

This news comes on the heels of the FCC voting to allocated 11 Mhz of spectrum in millimeter-wave bands.  That’s fancy talk for spectrum set aside for 5G.  Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Qualcomm will participate and provide funding.  The group hopes to build out some test cities (no announcements yet on where) as early as 2017.

As part of the initiative, large quantities of high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum will be available for both 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.

100 x Faster Wireless Networks

In its announcement, the White House said these spectrum policy and research efforts will accelerate the deployment of a new generation of wireless networks that are up to 100 times faster than today.

They will be super-fast, ultra-low latency, high-capacity networks and enable innovation.  Among the things possible, here are the examples given:

  • 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.


During the last seven and a half years, wireless use has exploded.

More than 350 million smartphones, connected tablets, and wearable devices are in use across the United States, more than double the number from a decade ago.

Wireless networks carry more than 100,000 times the traffic they were supporting in 2008.

Read more about the Initiative.