White House Initiative to invest $400M in making mobile networks 100 times faster


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The Obama administration will invest more than $400 million to help develop the next generation of mobile networks — which are expected to be 100 times faster than the ones today. 

According to a White House press release Friday, the National Science Foundation will lead the White House’s Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, a long-term investment to ensure America has the technology to support 5G from the private and public sector. 

“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,” the White House release said. 

The announcement comes on the heels of the Federal Communications Commission approving a set of rules to open massive amounts of high-frequency spectrum.

[Read more: FCC approves rules that lay the groundwork for 5G]

As part of the initiative, the NSF committed $50 million over the next five years to design “four city-scale advanced wireless testing platforms” in fiscal year 2017, the release said. These platforms will use citywide radio antennas to allow researchers and wireless users to conduct wireless experiments and tests that could lead to future innovations. Then, NSF will spend the remaining $350 million over the next seven years on research into advanced wireless technology projects.

Much of this money will go toward ensuring America’s networks can keep up with the constantly increasing need for stronger wireless networks as more businesses and consumers demand the most efficient internet access possible. To meet this demand, the Obama administration has previously invested $5 billion in broadband and also signed a presidential memorandum to make 500 megahertz of spectrum available by 2020. 

NSF is also conducting several complementary efforts, such as forming the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research group and establishing a $6 million partnership with Intel Labs to investigate super-fast data processing. In addition, it plans to support two prize challenges, worth a total of million dollars, on disaster recovery for wireless-related problems and finding low-cost connectivity in urban areas. 

Twenty-one telecommunication groups have signed on to provide research, equipment, money or other support in the research initiative — including major providers like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, as well as industry groups like the Telecommunications Industry Association.

“Federal government leadership in generating new research and development remains critical to advancing wireless technologies, especially as we approach the reality of 5G networks,” the association’s CEO Scott Belcher said in a release. 

He added, “While the United States has been a leader in 4G, continued investment in next-generation wireless technologies is essential for sustaining technological leadership in the competitive global marketplace. The administration’s initiative boosts R&D investment while also bringing together industry experts to coordinate and prioritize U.S. wireless innovation.”

Contact the reporter on this story via email: Jeremy.Snow@FedScoop.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyM_Snow. Sign up for the Daily Scoop — all the federal IT news you need in your inbox every morning — here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Agencies, emerging technology, Government IT News, Internet of Things, mobile and wireless, National Science Foundation (NSF), Tech, White House
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