ARA-NRDZ: From Site and Application Investigation to Prototyping and Field Testing

Rural America poses unique needs and opportunities for wireless spectrum sharing. On one hand, addressing the rural broadband challenge calls for spectrum accessibility that would be difficult without spectrum sharing. On the other hand, wireless spectrum tends to be less heavily used in rural regions today, and this offers opportunities of experimenting with novel spectrum management strategies for the unused spectrum. In addition, many spectrum users in rural regions tend to be sparsely distributed, and their spectrum use tends to vary over space and time too, offering opportunities for dynamic spectrum sharing. To address the need and to leverage the opportunity for spectrum sharing in rural regions, this project will investigate the ARA-NRDZ radio dynamic zone to enable research, education, innovation, and field testing of a wide range of dynamic spectrum sharing solutions and applications. The enabled spectrum sharing will help improve real-world spectrum use efficiency, reduce spectrum access cost, and empower rural communities to participate in addressing the rural broadband challenge. This project will create exciting opportunities for broadening participation in computing and networking, and it will help enrich undergraduate and graduate research and education as well as K-12 outreach. This project will also integrate the research findings and education materials into the ARA wireless living lab activities which are expected to engage broad stakeholders from industry, communities, government, and academia in advancing the state of the practice in rural broadband and spectrum sharing.

The investigation of the ARA-NRDZ radio dynamic zone will leverage the ARA wireless living lab for rural broadband, which is a part of the NSF Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program. To extend the ARA PAWR platform into a radio dynamic zone, this project will investigate mechanisms to support wireless communications and sensing in the Control and Non-Payload Communications (CNPC) bands of the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and to support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) spectrum-sharing experiments at frequency bands beyond the default operating frequencies of ARA-NRDZ. In collaboration with Collins Aerospace, AT&T, Ericsson, Keysight, and other ARA partners, this project will investigate site- and application-specific topics such as the roadmap of spectrum bands and radio dynamic zone capabilities in ARA-NRDZ, ways to use spectrum sharing for a wide range of applications, experiment design, as well as operation models and procedures, stakeholder training and engagement, and sustainability of the radio dynamic zone. The adoption of software-defined radios and programmable commercial-off-the-shelf wireless systems in ARA-NRDZ will facilitate the field-trials of spectrum sharing solutions from the broad community, and the BYOD support will also broaden the types of field trials feasible in ARA-NRDZ. This project expects to generate first-of-its-kind real-world measurement data of wireless channels in rural regions, and these data will serve as a foundation for studying dynamic spectrum sharing. For community building and collaborative learning, the project team will openly share results from this project, incorporate results from other SII-NRDZ projects in the ARA-NRDZ development, and actively contribute to the NRDZ Community Open Meetings and other community-engagement activities.

This project is a part of the NSF National Radio Dynamic Zone (NRDZ) program.

Project Team: