Salt Lake City

The nation’s first open programmable advanced wireless research testbed 

Platform Now in General Availability for Research

The POWDER-RENEW project is a collaboration between the University of Utah, Rice University and Salt Lake City, with broad support from community, municipal and state leadership. The purpose of the POWDER testbed is to enable innovative research across numerous technical areas including radio development for advanced networks including 5G, Radio Access Network (RAN) architectures, network orchestration models, Massive MIMO, and much more. The testbed provides state-of-the-art radio, compute, storage, and cloud resources, as well as the ability to work with existing hardware and software frameworks, or to build new ones from the ground up. Researchers can access the platform on site in Salt Lake City, or remotely from anywhere in the world.



POWDER-RENEW Interactive Coverage Area Map Click icons for details

Testbed developed jointly with the University of Utah and Rice University



Paired Radio Workbench Environment – Pairs of SDRs attached through 30 dB attenuators; includes new end-to-end 5G OAI capabilities

Indoor OTA Lab – Multiple SDRs and associated compute nodes; primarily intended for use with the CBRS frequency range

Outdoor Networks – Networks include near edge compute, backhaul connectivity, cloud access

  • 8 rooftop base stations with multiple SDRs and 8 fixed endpoints at ground level
  • 1 rooftop programmable massive MIMO array and multiple dedicated UE devices
  • 6 base stations on light poles with multiple SDRs each – coming in late 2022



Mobile Nodes – Mobile endpoints located on shuttle buses with SDRs and associated compute nodes

Experiment Profiles – Existing network “recipes” combining software stacks with hardware resources (examples include srsRAN 4G network, OAI 4G and 5G networks, ONAP instantiation, O-RAN/RIC environment, and more)

Spectrum – Hardware optimized for CBRS transmission; additional frequencies available for use via experimental program licenses, and POWDER’s Innovation Zone designation

Click here to visit the POWDER website.




Open RAN and Software-Defined RAN

The transition to open and software defined networks is driving demand for improvements in the software used to manage the RAN. POWDER provides an outdoor testbed that gives researchers the ability to customize, reconfigure, and control both the software and hardware parameters of a radio access network, offering a unique setting for developing algorithms and optimization frameworks that target specific performance improvements or efficiency gains.

Spectrum Sharing

POWDER provides an outdoor, production environment for testing the performance of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) algorithms and Spectrum Access Sharing (SAS) solutions. This research is important for understanding the extent to which spectrum can be reused, and for calculating the impact of spectrum sharing on the network capacity available for both government and commercial use.

Massive MIMO

Many of the massive MIMO solutions currently available for purchase by carriers/operators from equipment vendors employ proprietary hardware and software schemes. The flexible, SDR-based RENEW base station currently deployed on POWDER allows an experimenter to test new massive MIMO algorithms and application scenarios.




NexRAN: Closed-loop RAN slicing in POWDER- Top-to-bottom open-source open-RAN
WiNTECH’21: Proceedings of the 15th ACM Workshop on Wireless Network Testbeds, Experimental evaluation & CHaracterization, January 2022, DOI:

Towards using the POWDER platform for RF propagation validation
Published in: IEEE INFOCOM 2021 – IEEE Conference on Computer Communications Workshops , 10-13 May 2021, DOI: 10.1109/INFOCOMWKSHPS51825.2021.9484469

WiMatch: Wireless Resource Matchmaking
Published in: IEEE INFOCOM 2021 – IEEE Conference on Computer Communications Workshops (INFOCOM WKSHPS)10-13 May 2021, DOI: 10.1109/INFOCOMWKSHPS51825.2021.9484538

Trust in 5G Open RANs through Machine Learning: RF Fingerprinting on POWDER, PAWR
IEEE, GLOBECOM 2020 – 2020 IEEE Global Communications Conference, 7-11 Dec. 2020, DOI: 10.1109/GLOBECOM42002.2020.9348261

ZCNET: Achieving High Capacity in Low Power Wide Area Networks
Published in: 2020 IEEE 17th International Conference on Mobile Ad Hoc and Sensor Systems (MASS), 10-13 Dec. 2020, DOI: 10.1109/MASS50613.2020.00090


DOD Funding for POWDER Research

$2.7M PAWR Project Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense Will Test AI-Driven Spectrum Sharing Optimization In a 5G-NR Network



Click here to visit the POWDER website.

POWDER-RENEW is part of the National Science Foundation’s PAWR program, and is funded in part by NSF award CNS-1827940, and by the PAWR Industry Consortium.