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Researchers at Polytechnic Institute of New York University have assembled a consortium of government and business support to develop technology that could potentially increase cell phone capacity by more than 1,000 times. The 5G project hopes to develop the 80 GHz band using smaller, lighter antennas with directional beamforming to bounce signals off of buildings. The uncrowded millimeter-wave spectrum, has 50 to 100 times more user capacity is readily available. Smaller, smarter cells would cooperate rather than compete for spectrum.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the team an Accelerating Innovation Research (AIR) grant of $800,000, matched by $1.2 million from corporate backers and industrial partners including InterDigital, National Instruments and faculty startup company Asension Laboratories.

“Bandwidth-hungry devices are doubling wireless spectrum demand every 12 to 18 months,” said Professor Shivendra Panwar, principal investigator on the 5G project, CATT director and professor in NYU-Poly’s Department of Electrical and Computer and Engineering. “The 4G wireless networks increased the efficiency of spectrum usage, but this project pursues disruptive technologies that will significantly relieve the pressure.”

“Millimeter wave communications are the next frontier of the wireless age,” predicted Ted) Rappaport, co-principal investigator of the project who directs the NSF’s Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technology (WICAT) at NYU-Poly. “Early equipment is already on the market, and major corporations are investing substantially in the technology. This 5G project will offer tremendous value to the $1 trillion cellular industry, including helping to develop standards that will enable others to accelerate their research.”

Other WICAT faculty researchers include Associate Professor Sundeep Rangan, who leads the team’s work on limiting the interference in small (femto) cells. Rangan co-founded Flarion Technologies, which pioneered technologies that have evolved into today’s LTE and WiMax cellular network standards. Research Assistant Professor Pei Liu implemented one of the first cooperative systems in a university test bed.

Among the major wireless companies that are partners are National Instruments, a leading producer of test and measurement equipment and InterDigital, a longtime NYU-Poly collaborator that develops fundamental wireless technologies for mobile devices, networks and services worldwide. Hardware and software from NI will serve as the test bed for these 5G research initiatives to be proved quickly through rapid iteration capabilities.

The WICAT center at NYU-Poly is among the largest industrial-academic consortia supported by NSF and includes the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Auburn University, and The University of Texas at Austin.

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