Source: Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research

Announcement brings new spectrum flexibility to wireless researchers on PAWR platforms

WASHINGTON – August 5, 2021 – The Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and an industry consortium of 35 leading wireless companies, today announced that the Federal Communications Commission has awarded Innovation Zone status to PAWR test sites in Raleigh, North Carolina and Boston, Massachusetts. In Raleigh, the Innovation Zone encompasses the AERPAW platform for wireless and drone communications research at North Carolina State University. In Boston, the designation applies to two sites associated with the Colosseum network emulator at Northeastern University.

The FCC created Innovation Zones as an extension of the agency’s system for Program Experimental Licenses. Experimental licenses give qualified institutions the ability to conduct multiple and unrelated experiments over specific frequency bands without seeking explicit FCC approval each time. While, an experimental license limits researchers to a defined geographic region under their control, the innovation program allows researchers to expand their reach to designated Innovation Zone sites. The enhanced system significantly streamlines the regulatory process for gaining access to spectrum for research purposes.

As new FCC Innovation Zones, the PAWR sites in Raleigh and Boston join the POWDER and COSMOS platforms in Salt Lake City, Utah and New York City, New York respectively, both of which were named Innovation Zones in late 2019. These PAWR projects – POWDER, COSMOS, AERPAW, and Colosseum – are uniquely capable of supporting large-scale wireless experimentation and currently host the only sites in the country with Innovation Zone status.

“Access to spectrum is critical for conducting meaningful wireless research and ensuring that we can continue to advance our capabilities in 5G networks and beyond,” said Mari Silbey, Program Director, PAWR Project Office. “Whether it’s investigating new ways to automate functions in the network, understanding how to maximize link performance, or testing new Open RAN interfaces and orchestration software, the availability of spectrum propels research forward and makes it possible for innovators to move beyond the lab and out into the real world. We are grateful to the FCC for continuing to support creative spectrum access solutions like the designation of Innovation Zones.”

The PAWR platforms target different areas of research focus, offering both open and programmable network assets along with commercial equipment and software. The POWDER and COSMOS testbeds are generally available for research today, as is the Colosseum network emulator. AERPAW, which combines wireless communications research with unmanned aerial vehicles, is expected to be available in the fall. A final PAWR testbed, ARA, was announced in June and will focus on rural broadband research and precision agriculture applications.

For more information on the PAWR program, please visit the PAWR website at

About the PAWR Project Office (PPO)
The Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research Project Office (PPO) manages the $100 million public-private partnership and oversees the research platforms. The PPO is co-led by US Ignite and Northeastern University, and funded by the National Science Foundation and PAWR industry consortium. The PPO collaborates closely with the wireless research community, local communities, and industry, in part through the industry consortium, in the design, development, deployment, and initial operations of the research platforms.