The National Science Foundation (NSF), wireless industry leaders, and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) have joined efforts, creating a consortium to work towards 5G cellular networks. Once created, the result will be an increase of cell phone capacity of more than 1,000x over 4G networks.
Funding the effort is an Accelerating Innovation Research (AIR) grant of $800,000, plus $1.2 million from corporate backers and the Empire State Development Division of Science, Technology & Innovation (NYSTAR), a partner of NYU-POLY. Industrial partners are InterDigital, National Instruments and a faculty startup, Asension Laboratories.
The project will concentrate on developing smart and more cost effective wireless infrastructure via such advances as small, lighter antennas with directional beamforming capable of bouncing signals off buildings using the less-crowded millimeter-wave spectrum. In this spectrum, 50 to 100x more user capacity is available. Also targeted is the development of smaller, smarter cells with devices that cooperate for spectrum bandwidth, rather than compete for it.
The move to the relatively unused and inexpensive millimeter-wave spectrum is led by Professor Theodore (Ted) Rappaport, who recently joined the NYU and NYU-Poly faculty. He is launching the world's first academic research center that combines wireless communications with computing and medical applications. The NSF's Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technology (WICAT) at NYU-Poly is where most of the project's research will be conducted. The industrial partners' labs will also conduct research.
Other WICAT faculty researchers involved in the project include Associate Professor Sundeep Rangan, who leads the team's work on limiting the interference in small (femto) cells. Rangan co-founded Flarion Technologies, (acquired by Qualcomm) which pioneered technologies that have evolved into today's LTE and WiMax cellular network standards. Professor Elza Erkip is a pioneer in relaying and cooperative communications and a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Information Theory Society. Research Assistant Professor Pei Liu implemented one of the first cooperative systems in a university test bed. NYU-Poly Industry Professor Michael Knox, founder of Asension Laboratories, will lead research into full duplex antenna technology that enables simultaneous transmission and reception on the same RF carrier frequency while operating through a patented single antenna element, effectively doubling capacity.
Hardware and software from NI will serve as the test bed for these 5G research initiatives to be proved quickly through rapid iteration capabilities.
It will be interesting to follow their progress.