Arizona State University taps Verizon for 5G Innovation Hub

Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband and mobile edge compute services enable researchers to develop and test real-world solutions to enhance immersive education, remote learning, virtual reality and data analytics

Aiming to explore what it believes will be a 5G-based future of knowledge, Arizona State University (ASU) is teaming with comms provider Verizon to explore how 5G can enable immersive educational experiences and transform the future of learning.

Claiming to have been recognised in studies as the most innovative school in the US, Arizona State University’s students and faculty work with organisations such as Nasa to develop, advance and lead innovations with the intention of advancing pioneering research, strategic partnerships, entrepreneurship and economic development.

As part of fulfilling its remit, the university has engaged Verizon to launch a 5G Innovation Hub at its Learning Futures Collaboratory, Studios and Emporium. This is designed to allow students, faculty, entrepreneurs and corporate partners to work together to test and create 5G-powered educational experiences that are intended to be more inclusive, equitable and accessible.

Digital equity is on the US national agenda as leaders aim to address a digital divide that is said to have deepened during the pandemic. And in the state of Arizona, where as many as one million residents – including more than 200,000 students – do not have regular access to the internet, ASU has been instrumental in leading a series of initiatives aimed at surfacing solutions to help close the digital divide.

The first programme to launch out of the 5G Innovation Hub at ASU will be the Digital Equity Jam sponsored by Verizon, AWS and 5G solutions provider Inseego. The programme will kick off in early February 2022, with competing teams developing use cases showcasing how Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband and mobile edge compute can be used to help bridge the digital divide.

Focus areas will include health, climate, poverty, human rights and education. The winning team will receive project seed funding, access to intensive summer entrepreneurship training in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and VentureWell, and the opportunity to pitch their venture to CGI in autumn 2022.

“Working with ASU, we have an extraordinary opportunity to research and develop new 5G-enabled experiences that can improve remote learning and help bridge the digital divide,” said Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin. “Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband’s super-fast speeds, high bandwidth and low latency can enhance applications ranging from immersive education to connected communities. By collaborating with ASU’s researchers, we hope to accelerate the innovation process and develop technology that will harness the full potential of 5G and edge compute.”

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ASU president Michael Crow added: “We are in the most transformative technological moment since the early stages of the industrial revolution. And even with the social, political and economic impacts that we are still learning to navigate as a society, there have been incredibly meaningful results from this use of technology.

“Who gets educated is no longer socially stratified – we are able to unleash human creativity in ways not possible before. What these technologies that leverage broadband at the fastest speeds and most advanced level imaginable allow us to create is an environment in which the person, the learner, becomes emotionally connected in the story around the learning process itself. 

“At ASU, we have become, with this next phase of our partnership with Verizon, the furthest at the tip of the spear to be empowered with technology and continue to improve the ways in which we learn, work and live.”

The ASU engagement is part of Verizon’s broader strategy to partner enterprises, startups, universities, national labs and government/military to explore how 5G can disrupt and transform nearly every industry. Verizon operates five 5G Labs in the US and one in London that specialise in developing use cases in industries ranging from healthcare to public safety to entertainment.

Verizon is also collaborating with several customers to establish 5G Innovation Hubs on-premise as part of an ongoing initiative to co-innovate and create new 5G applications.

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