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.



Who Is The POWDER Testbed For?

Academics –
For academic researchers, the POWDER platform offers an opportunity to gain access to valuable wireless infrastructure for experimentation in a scaled, real world environment. With a unique set of resources, the testbed enables both extended academic exploration, and the ability to do breakthrough research at the frontiers of wireless network study.

Industry Affiliates –
Wireless industry leaders should view the POWDER platform as a sandbox for experimenting with equipment, software, and spectrum that may not be available within the commercial networks in which they operate. The platform is a neutral site available for system integration, product evaluation, and feasibility studies. Particularly as the industry moves toward software-defined infrastructure – radio, network, and cloud – this platform provides a unique opportunity to test how new systems and technologies behave and interoperate in a real-world environment.

Government Agencies, Open Source Organizations, Standards Bodies –
The POWDER-RENEW team welcomes joint experimentation and partnership opportunities with other organizations working to advance wireless research. Among other efforts, the platform can be used to create virtual environments for ongoing development and testing of software stacks that are critical to the evolution of communications networking.



What Does The POWDER Testbed Provide?

The POWDER testbed includes radio hardware, edge compute sites, fiber connectivity, profiles for existing software frameworks, and access to select spectrum resources. The radio equipment is software-defined, a combination of commercial SDRs from National Instruments/Ettus Research and custom designs from Skylark Wireless. All SDRs are capable of at least 2×2 MIMO, with some of the Skylark models supporting Massive MIMO up to 64 channels.

The testbed offers edge compute resources via local datacenters connected by a private all-fiber network, as well as access to cloud computing facilities provided by CloudLab and Emulab. Researchers can bring their own software to the platform, build new software stacks, or work with software frameworks that already exist in the POWDER virtual workspace. The default profile provided by POWDER, for example, sets up a fully-functional 4G network using open source srsLTE software.

For testing with licensed spectrum, researchers can take advantage of the POWDER platform FCC Innovation Zone designation which offers great flexibility in allocating/using experimental licenses. Researchers can also use spectrum in the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) bands, spectrum in the unlicensed bands at 2.4Ghz and 5.9GHz, as well as spectrum in commercial bands “donated” to the project.



What Can You Test On The Testbed?

Sample Experimental Use Cases:

  • Basic Wireless Communications
    Design, deploy, and test antenna hardware. Assess open source radio software.
    Mini Project Sample: “802.11 with GNURadio”
  • Massive MIMO
    Compare beamforming techniques, measure interference, and test user equipment with massive MIMO hardware.
    Mini Project Sample: “MMSE Beamforming”
  • RAN Virtualization and Software Programmability
    Test distributed RAN functionality, network programmability, and application-aware networking implementations.
    Mini Project Sample: “Application-Aware Scheduling Optimization”



Research Publications

L. Bonati, S. D’Oro, L. Bertizzolo, E. Demirors, Z. Guan, S. Basagni, and T. Melodia, “CellOS: Zero-touch Softwarized Open Cellular Networks,” Computer Networks, vol. 180, June 2020. [pdf][bibtex]

Reus-Muns, D. Jaisinghani, K. Sankhe and K. R. Chowdhury, “Trust in 5G Open RANs through Machine Learning: RF Fingerprinting on the POWDER PAWR Platform,” IEEE Globecom, 7-11 December 2020, Taipei, Taiwan. [abstract]


PAWR Research funded by NSF Supplement

View research abstracts


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



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