AT&T, UT team for 5G and edge computing

AT&T said it will install a 5G millimeter wave network and edge computing services at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

August 17, 2021

3 Min Read

DALLAS – The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) and AT&T* are working together to accelerate research and develop innovative new capabilities powered by AT&T 5G using millimeter wave spectrum (5G+) and Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) technology on the UT campus. The AT&T 5G+ network is expected to enable the university to help make an impact on society beyond conventional engineering through potential uses in several industries including defense, public safety, healthcare, education, entertainment and banking.

UT is the hub of a vibrant research community that includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory, The University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm, and other University of Tennessee System campuses and institutes. The addition of AT&T 5G+ technology can enhance its research capabilities and create opportunities to help solve issues that impact the university, the region, and the world.

As part of these enhancements, an expert faculty group from multiple departments in UT's Tickle College of Engineering has been created to collaborate on research and teaching, seek funding and establish partnerships with industry leaders and the UT community.

Why is this important? AT&T 5G+ and MEC will provide a high-speed private network on campus that can bring ultra-low latency, ultra-high speeds and better capacity. Combined 5G and edge technology can support unprecedented digital learning, research and development opportunities for faculty, students, administration and other researchers. Planned use cases at the UT campus powered by AT&T 5G+ and MEC include:

  • Bringing 5G to rural areas – Mobile 5G networks can provide reliable high speed, low latency, and high capacity connectivity to rural areas and help improve the quality of life and equity within those communities, including access to telehealth, education, local economies and job creation. 5G technology can render itself to portable platforms enabling on the move type of services for gap measures to address the digital divide. Furthermore, the use of 5G+ sensing technology renders itself to agricultural applications such as supporting precision agriculture technologies by allowing for real-time monitoring of the soil and crop health.

  • Expand academic and training offers for students – AT&T's 5G+ with MEC is expected to enable immersive learning experiences such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to render new environments for student experimentation and learning, especially for situations that are not accessible to students due to cost, risk or feasibility. Examples of these virtual environments might include exploring nuclear power plants, the depths of the ocean, or experiencing a rocket launch. Furthermore, near real-time capabilities enables the combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to gather and analyze large amounts of data using student's biometric signatures to evaluate student performance and the amount of time they're engaged in course material to personalize learning experiences.

  • Millimeter wave radars to see through physical barriers – The military will explore the use of millimeter wave radars to help warfighters to "see through" physical barriers such as walls. This solution would include a portable communications system that captures and shares images through a wall, allowing soldiers with connected devices to exchange this information with each other in near real-time to help protect and defend against potential threats. The new 5G testbeds will facilitate testing, refining, and validating the low latency connectivity vital to these experiments.

When will the technology be implemented? The testbed installation for AT&T 5G+, which uses millimeter wave frequencies, is underway and expected to be completed by Fall 2021.


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