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Researchers seek ways to bring high-speed Internet to more homes and businesses in rural Virginia


BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 24, 2014 – Many families and businesses in rural Virginia don’t have ready access to high-speed connections to the Internet. Virginia Tech researchers are out to change that.

Wireless@Virginia Tech is testing new technologies that will make it possible for high-speed Internet to reach more homes and businesses through a project called the “Spectrum Management Research Testbed – Self-Sustaining Broadband Network.”

In traditional broadband Internet access by wireless internet service providers, the more end users, the faster the infrastructure costs can be recovered and a profit can be realized.

However, rural areas have a lower population density, which gives little incentive for service providers to build in those areas. The lack of broadband limits business and education growth for the region.

Over the past several years, the government has made additional radio frequency spectrum available for sharing between government, commercial, and public wireless systems. One of the benefits will be the availability of new spectrum for wireless Internet service providers to improve broadband Internet access in rural areas.

Wireless@Virginia Tech has developed technologies that will permit service providers to generate additional revenue by providing mobile spectrum sharing testbed services to government and industry members.

The revenue created through research and development activities will effectively provide more “end users” for the infrastructure and lower broadband service costs needed to make “last mile” broadband more viable.

Wireless@Virginia Tech has the technical lead on this project, and will partner with two non-profit organizations, Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation and the Center for Advanced Engineering Research. Virginia Tech Applied Research Center will assist in the research effort. The Center for Advanced Engineering Research, located in Bedford County, will provide overall coordination and training for service providers.

The leaders at Wireless@Virginia Tech for the testbed project are Jeffrey Reed, the Willis G. Worcester Professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of Wireless@Virginia Tech; Brent Roeder, a project associate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and chief operating officer of Wireless@Virginia Tech; and Carl Dietrich, a research associate professor in electrical and computer engineering.

This project can provide higher performance, and cost effective broadband in areas where it is unavailable. It will also generate jobs to manage and support these mobile stations.

Dietrich and Roeder have received a grant of $30,000 from the Virginia Innovation Partnership i6 Challenge to prove project concepts for the testbed for commercializing products. Dietrich will serve as principal investigator with Roeder as the co-principal investigator. Reed will serve as a consultant to the team lending his expertise in technology commercialization.

Wireless@Virginia Tech was officially launched in 2006 with seed money from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. It brings together researchers, facilities, equipment, and expertise from many disciplines to create solutions for wireless challenges. The organization is one of the largest academic groups in the country focused on wireless communications.

A premier Research Institute of Virginia Tech, the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science ensures a sustainable future by advancing transformative, interdisciplinary research at the intersections of engineering, the humanities, and the physical, life, and social sciences.

Written by Kelly Kaiser.


Virginia Tech Research

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