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January 31, 2023 | Shannon Smith

UTK, AT&T collaborate for new 5G research lab

When it comes to improving transportation, agriculture, communications, and more, 5G could be the answer. The new AT&T 5G Lab at the University of Tennessee Research Park will help break new ground in that realm.

The future is 5G, and that future has a home at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK).

UT’s Knoxville campus and AT&T dedicated the new AT&T 5G Lab Thursday at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm. UT is one of only six universities in the country to advance research initiatives in collaboration with AT&T. In 2021, UTK agreed to work with AT&T on research projects using a 5G+ millimeter wave spectrum network in a lab environment.

“We have a long history of working with UT on projects that explored how to capitalize on emerging advanced technologies, and now we’re looking forward to what faculty and students here will learn about the capabilities of 5G high-speed broadband,” said Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T Tennessee. “It is exciting to think that innovations and applications which will improve lives tomorrow may begin as a ‘what if’ conversation in this new lab.”

This joint effort between AT&T and UTK creates opportunities for research and collaboration into future uses for 5G technology, which has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of our world including communications, health care, national security, and agriculture.

“Our faculty and students are really excited to use this state-of-the-art 5G testbed to develop innovations with such far-reaching implications, including in precision agriculture, health care, and transportation,” said UTK Vice Chancellor for Research Deborah Crawford. “We create high-impact solutions when we collaborate with organizations like AT&T.”

Research already underway in the new lab could translate into a variety of different sectors. In transportation, 5G enhancements could mean faster response time for self-driving vehicles. In agriculture, 5G could enable sensors that monitor livestock health from afar. At Thursday’s dedication, researchers demonstrated how augmented reality could assist a technician performing critical work on an airplane’s landing gear while working with a subject matter expert in a remote location.

“Our communities gain major benefits when our faculty and students tackle real-world issues brought by companies who also live and work in those same communities. That’s what is happening today between UT and AT&T — we are committed to making life and lives better,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman.

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