WiCI Mission

Advancing the frontier of wireless and applications
as well as the platform and practice of research, education, innovation, and community empowerment!

Rural-Focused Broadband Innovation. Just as water and electricity, broadband has become an essential utility for society. It is a foundation for next-generation rural industries such as precision agriculture, renewable energy, and advanced manufacturing, and it is essential for rural education as well as community services. The sparse population and unique industry needs in rural regions call for rural-focused technology innovations that enable affordable, high-capacity broadband services. Given that innovators in urban regions tend to lack first-hand experience and insight into unique rural needs and may lack motivation to prioritize addressing rural needs, empowering rural communities to participate in broadband technology innovation is critical for ensuring that rural regions do not always lag behind in the access and adoption of fast-evolving broadband services.

Innovation Democratization. Telecom is undergoing a major paradigm shift in the sense that major innovations in future-generations of wireless and broadband solutions will be realized through software systems innovations. The emergence of open-source and open innovation platforms (e.g., OpenAirInterface, srsRAN, ONF SD-RAN, and O-RAN) further speeds up and reduces barriers to innovation. Accordingly, different stakeholder communities (e.g., broadband researchers, innovators, and end-users) can collaborate more closely to shape broadband technology and services evolution, and rural regions can play more active roles in broadband innovation.

Rural Leadership & Beyond. Novel high-capacity rural wireless systems are expected to reduce broadband cost by a factor of 10 or more, and wireless is the only mechanism to connect mobile vehicles in precision agriculture. In the meantime, many high-priority wireless applications (e.g., teleoperated ground and aerial vehicles) are best piloted first in the rural regions before their broad urban adoption, and advanced wireless technologies for remote rural regions may well be applicable to other far edge scenarios such as public safety and tactical fields. Therefore, rural-focused wireless innovations will also help advance the frontiers of broadband technologies in general, thus helping advance broadband services beyond rural regions.

At the Center for Wireless, Communities and Innovation (WiCI), we investigate the aforementioned social-technological challenges and opportunities, and we pursue the following activities towards fully unleashing the transformative impact of advanced wireless and rural leadership:

  • Advancing frontiers: research in advanced wireless and applications as well as interrelated technology-society transformation;
  • Translating research into real-world impact: innovation, entrepreneurship, as well as university, industry, community, and government collaboration in research, innovation, and services;
  • Building innovation capacity: education and workforce development to create pathways for diverse students, researchers, and innovators to participate in advanced wireless and applications, STEM, and social-economic development;
  • Developing innovation communities: creating ecosystem partnerships and leading integrative research, education, innovation, and economic and community development activities.