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Rural applications research at Iowa State University receives boost from Ericsson and NSF-Funded PAWR Project Office

Ericsson Media Release | Jun 29, 2022

• Ericsson and the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program run by the National Science Foundation (NSF) supports the Agriculture and Rural Communities (ARA) testbed at Iowa State University with its cutting-edge research around precision agriculture, rural broadband, renewable energy, and public safety

• Ericsson provides Iowa State University with best-in-class Massive MIMO radios, a distributed 5G Core network for standalone hosted in Ericsson’s Silicon Valley D-15 innovation lab, and a local User Plane Function (UPF) supporting low latency and edge processing

• The ARA testbed will provide a proving ground for innovators across the ecosystem to develop and test hardware and software solutions for rural and farming communities on a 5G network 

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) today announced an agreement with the National Science Foundation-funded Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program to supply Ericsson’s industry-leading and globally-deployed Radio Access Network (RAN), core, and services in support of the Agriculture and Rural Communities (ARA) testbed at Iowa State University (ISU). Ericsson’s contribution will help support advanced research around precision agriculture, rural broadband, renewable energy, and public safety. The ARA network will provide outdoor macro coverage extending across the ISU campus and surrounding areas to advance technical innovation.

“Ericsson has been a valuable partner since the beginning of the PAWR program and continues to enable some of the most advanced wireless research in 5G and beyond,” said Mari Silbey, Program Director for the PAWR Project Office. “The company’s contributions to the ARA platform will bring 5G SA capabilities to farm sites in Central Iowa and create a living lab for developing new applications and network optimization technologies in a rural environment. We’re excited once again to demonstrate the benefits of combining private sector and academic research talents, and by the wireless innovation at ARA that is still to come.”

“We very much appreciate the generous contributions from Ericsson to the ARA testbed,” said Hongwei Zhang, Principal Investigator of the ARA testbed at Iowa State University. “We are looking forward to working with Ericsson in the research and field trials of advanced wireless systems for rural applications such as precision agriculture.”

“Deploying Ericsson’s latest Massive MIMO radios and a 5G Core are critical elements of a modern 5G network, and an essential part of the research being conducted at the ARA testbed at ISU,” said Christopher Yaw, Chief Solution Architect for Mission Critical Systems, Ericsson North America. “Ericsson is a world leader in global 5G deployments consisting of both RAN and 5G Core. Providing these products and capabilities to the PAWR organization and ARA will materially enhance ARA’s objectives of advanced research around precision agriculture, rural broadband, renewable energy, and public safety.”

At ISU, Ericsson will deploy Massive MIMO radios in multiple frequency bands. Some of the deployed radios will be shipping from the Ericsson 5G USA Smart Factory in Lewisville, Texas.

Ericsson is also providing a 5G Core hosted at its D-15 Innovation Lab, Santa Clara, California. To further enhance experimentation of use cases that require efficient, low latency processing at the edge, Ericsson will deploy locally within the ISU datacenter its latest small form factor, Local Packet Gateway inclusive a User Plane Function (UPF).

“This split architecture is critical in delivering on the promise of low latency and edge processing of application traffic. Many of Ericsson’s commercial and private network customers are asking for this critical capability and we are excited to show how our Local Packet Gateway can meet these demanding requirements,” said Christopher Yaw.

Use cases will be focused on enhancing farming and ranching operations, improving yields, automating operations through autonomy, implementing secure renewable energy sources, and improving public safety operations in rural America.

The news comes after PAWR issued an award to ISU in June 2021. Iowa State University and its partners became the fourth testbed in a diverse portfolio of large-scale PAWR research platforms located throughout the United States.

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