OPERA: An Open-Source Ecosystem for Broadband Prairie

Rural broadband is a foundation for a strong rural economy and quality of life, yet 39% of the rural US lacks broadband access, and most agriculture farms are not connected at all. To address the challenge, the project proposes to develop the OPen-source Ecosystem for bRoadband prAirie (OPERA). OPERA will enable researchers to transform their rural broadband research experiments into open-source software, data, and hardware designs that can be integrated with open-source platforms to generate rural-focused broadband solutions. This will enable broadband technology researchers, open-source communities, and rural regions to collaborate in addressing the rural broadband challenge. Accordingly, the project is expected to not only enable rural-focused broadband technology innovation today but also empower rural regions to become active participants in continuous broadband innovation in the long term.  

Leveraging the ARA wireless living lab, which is a part of the NSF Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program, OPERA will provide the organization and governance structure as well as community building leadership in fostering the open-source ecosystem (OSE) for broadband prairie. To generate high-quality open-source software, data, and hardware-designs beyond typical experimental results, OPERA will complement ARA-enabled scientific experimentation with open-source coaching as well as the OSE process, infrastructure, and partnership support. To facilitate the integration of research products into open-source platforms and foster their real-world adoption in specific rural applications, OPERA will enable cross-sector collaborations among researchers, open-source communities, and rural region stakeholders. 

By combining the complementary strengths of broadband researchers, open-source developers, and rural application communities, OPERA is poised to help unleash the full capacity of the research and open-source communities in addressing the rural broadband challenge. It will provide ecosystem support for individual researchers and innovators to make direct real-world impact, and it empowers rural regions in co-shaping the continuous broadband innovation. OPERA-enabled open-source coaching will infuse real-world open-source practice into research experimentation, and will strengthen experiential learning by focusing on production-quality prototyping. OPERA-enabled open-source innovation and cross-sector collaboration will help engage underrepresented students in research, and will provide unique learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate education. 

OPERA is a part of the National Science Foundation Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems (POSE) program.

Project Team

Former Compatriot
Ahmed Kamal (late), Professor ECE