Second RFP round released for PAWR program to keep U.S. competitive

In this second round, greater emphasis is on use cases, including things like smart agriculture, transportation and manufacturing. (Pixabay)

As part of attempts to keep the U.S. competitive in 5G and beyond, the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) Project Office is releasing a second Request for Proposals (RFP) to design and operate platforms for advancing next-generation wireless research.

The first call for RFPs resulted in projects awarded in New York City and Salt Lake City where researchers are working on things like autonomous cars, millimeter wave and advanced antenna technology. The goal is to establish four advanced research platforms supported by $100 million in cash and in-kind investments from the public and private sectors.

This second RFP round is broadly similar to the first, but this time the focus is on vertical use cases for advanced wireless technologies, including but not limited to areas such as smart agriculture, transportation, energy, healthcare, education, manufacturing and public safety.


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The intention is not to replicate what’s already being done in the other test beds but to trigger diversity in platforms, according to Bill Wallace, executive director at US Ignite, which is working with Northeastern University to lead the project, which gets funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a consortium of 28 companies and industry associations—including CTIA, TIA, ATIS, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Nokia, Qualcomm, Ericsson, National Instruments and more.

RELATED: Salt Lake City, New York City to support wireless test beds that go beyond 5G

“We are in many ways creating a city-scale laboratory,” said Erwin Gianchandani, deputy assistant director at NSF for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, in a press release. “With its focus on fundamental, pre-commercial research, and combining civic aims with networking innovation, PAWR offers an unprecedented opportunity to impact people’s daily lives, community well-being, and the nation’s economy.”

Teams that want to apply for the funding need to consist of an interested city and academic partner with specialists in wireless research. The deadline for preliminary proposals is Sept. 28, and final proposals are due Dec. 11. Finalists will be announced no later than March 2019; each winner will get up to $9 million in cash and up to $15 million worth of in-kind contributions to implement an at-scale wireless test bed.

Part of the goal of the program is to address that “valley of death” between fundamental research and applied research, so that research can see the light of day before it’s too late. The goal is to develop models so the research and development can proceed beyond the program and remain sustainable past the initial funding.

“The overall goal is to maintain U.S. leadership,” like it has had in the 4G world to 5G and beyond, Wallace told FierceWirelessTech.

It’s also designed such that collaboration can occur between all four test beds, with researchers able to remotely access all the various platforms that are being developed.