Partners including US Ignite and Northeastern University, with financial backing from the National Science Foundation, hope today's second-round request for proposal help position the United States as the world's leader in wireless technologies far beyond upcoming 5G deployments.
RFP II in the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program seeks teams that include a city, research organization and vertical-market stakeholders, such as healthcare providers or farmers, said Bill Wallace, US Ignite executive director and co-principal investigator at the smart-city advocacy organization's PAWR's Project Office (PPO). New York City and Salt Lake City each won awards in RFP I; one or two city-scale programs will each win up to $9 million in cash and up to $15 million worth of in-kind contributions they can use for their at-scale wireless testbed in this new round, according to PPO.
NSF, of course, was fully or partially responsible for many innovations -- like the Internet (as well as bar codes, fiber optics and data compression technology).
All four major US carriers are participating. They, along with industry partners -- 28 companies and associations -- are contributing equipment and expertise to help design award-winners' platforms, but not the technology per se. Winning teams will develop new technologies via the research they do on the platforms, and much of it will come from the academic community to start. Industry partners will then get access to the platforms to run their own research tests, Wallace said.
RFP to reality
When deployed in 2019, New York City's testbed will have access to about 20,000 potential users, while Salt Lake City could reach around 40,000 prospective wireless customers, Wallace said. In addition to supporting the initiative, each service provider gets an individual period over the five-year award to focus on its own research.
Since this RFP focuses on vertical markets, entrants must start with a use case that's missing a wireless element, he said.
"To do the kinds of things they want to do in the use cases they need to identify not just the use case, but the enabling technology that is not available today," said Wallace. "The farther and deeper a community has deployed fixed broadband, the stronger the network is (higher capacity, lower latency) that can support these new wireless platforms," said Wallace.
Terms and conditions
Apply here: Round II RFP. Preliminary proposals are due Sept. 18, 2018; full proposals are due Dec. 11, 2018. The organization will offer preliminary participants either a recommendation to continue or discontinue, which applicants are welcome to act on or not, said Wallace. All preliminary entrants can continue on to the full proposal, he noted.
PAWR's PPO will announce the finalists no later than February 2019 and complete site visits by the end of April 1, at the latest. It will then unveil the winner or two winners during the last quarter of next year.
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Fast, reliable broadband is essential to how we live, work and play today – and the upcoming arrival of 5G will only further increase demand and reliance on fiber infrastructure. Already viewed by consumers as intolerable, delays, outages or the regular maintenance difficulties associated with operating a network will become further exacerbated when residential subscribers further rely on connected devices for day-to-day life. Just as providers deploy network automation tools to reduce operational issues, they must take similar care to manage consumer expectations when they roll out fiber or new services. This webinar features leaders who will discuss how to manage marketing and consumer expectations at every stage of the network lifecycle. Marketing professionals, c-level executives and policymakers interested in drumming up fiber envy should attend.
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