Healey-Driscoll Administration Celebrates Northeastern University for Winning $6 Million

Special to the Sun

The Healey-Driscoll administration is celebrating Northeastern University for winning three federal grants totaling $6 million from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund to support their Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things (WIoT). The federal investments supported by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which provided $1.52 million in capital grant funding from the Technology & Innovation Ecosystem Awards program managed by the Innovation Institute at MassTech.

Altogether, these NTIA grants – funded by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 – will help unlock innovation in testing and strengthening of the wireless supply chain across the nation, helping reduce costs, increase competition, and lower security risks for future mobile networking.

“Massachusetts has a proud history of paving the next frontier of telecommunications and is continuing this tradition through the initiative of our colleges and universities, who are staying on the cutting edge of mobile tech,” said Governor Maura Healey. “We want to congratulate Northeastern on their innovative approach to ensuring our communications are more secure, cost-effective, and will create the jobs of tomorrow, and we thank the Biden-Harris administration for making this funding available.”

“We’re a state filled with the best universities in the country,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “This support from the Biden-Harris administration allows us to further empower our academic institutions and students. By equipping them with the necessary tools, we aim to motivate them to reach exceptional heights in technological innovation.” 

“For more than 50 years, U.S. universities have worked in partnership with government to advance the frontiers of science and maintain our global competitiveness,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University. “This federal investment in Northeastern’s wireless communications research – supplemented by the Healey-Driscoll administration’s vital support – will enable our scientists to develop break-through technologies that benefit our region, the nation and the world.”

The three NTIA grants to Northeastern include:

• August 8, 2023: A $2 million award for the TENORAN project, with partner Dell Technologies, NVIDIA, an automated end-to-end energy-efficiency profiling of Open RAN systems through high-fidelity standardized testing scenarios.

• November 28, 2023: A $2 million award for DigiRAN project, with partner Dell Technologies, focused on the interoperability, security and performance testing of an open RAN (radio access network architecture) system.

• January 10, 2024: A $2 million award for AutoRAN project with partner Nvidia, which will research the automation of “end-to-end continuous testing for open and disaggregated cellular systems.”

  “Northeastern’s commitment to build a more intelligent mobile networking infrastructure here in Massachusetts has the potential to increase competition and grow our economy,” said Secretary of Economic Development Yvonne Hao. “We’re grateful for the support of the Biden Administration and the NTIA for enabling Northeastern University to pioneer technological advancements, break barriers, build a hub for economic development, and provide workforce opportunities for their student population.”

“Through these investments, Northeastern will help advance the wireless networks that power our innovation economy, making them more agile, responsive, and secure,” said Pat Larkin, Director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech. “For our startups in the advanced wireless space, this new technology will expand their access to cutting-edge technology and the world-class researchers at NU.”

“We are grateful to President Biden, Secretary Raimondo and the NTIA for their decision, and congratulations to Northeastern on this exciting award,” said Director of Federal Funds and Infrastructure Quentin Palfrey. “We will continue leveraging Massachusetts’s strengths in technology and innovation as we compete for federal funds that strengthen our supply chains, while creating good-paying jobs and investing in our communities.”

The investments will help Northeastern expand on the WIoT Institute infrastructure to acquire equipment which, combined with their Open 6G Testing & Integration Center, will create a unique facility to test interoperability and AI research around the deployment of 6G wireless, while also building a hub for economic development around Open RAN/6G wireless ecosystem in Massachusetts and a tech incubator for locally based startups. In addition, the public investments will strengthen workforce development efforts around Open RAN and 6G in the state.

The new tools will complement Northeastern’s existing telecommunications research hubs, such as the wireless network emulator, called Colosseum, and the FCC Innovation Zone, which allows qualified federal “licensees to test new advanced technologies and prototype networks.” 

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