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US government launches $400 million initiative to research 5G wireless networks

The White House has announced a $400 million research program aimed at building 5G wireless networks across the country, TechCrunch reports. The project, called the Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, will be led by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Over the next seven years, the NSF will launch and study four “city-scale testing programs” to see how 5G wireless networks could be implemented, according to a White House press release.

The announcement comes just one day after the FCC voted to begin opening up high-speed airwaves to prepare the United States for 5G networks. Yesterday the FCC said it expected the first 5G networks to go live in 2020, after the airwaves have been opened and the technology is ready.

Advanced Wireless Research Initiative

Funding for the AWRI comes from the NSF and several private companies like Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Qualcomm. Certain companies like AT&T, alongside the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions and the Telecommunications Industry Association, will also provide design and technical support.

While it’s not clear yet what nationwide 5G will mean exactly for the average consumer, today’s announcement is proof the White House is interested in finding out. The NSF plans to begin building the testing platforms in still-unannounced cities in 2017.

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