Testing for rural internet and next generation communications now viable throughout NC

Wake Forest, NC– November 6, 2014 — The Wireless Research Center of North Carolina (WRC) has acquired three portable radio towers, thanks to a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation. This expands WRC’s support of wireless technology expansion throughout North Carolina.

The towers will be used to support the design, development and deployment of fixed wireless networks for a wide range of services throughout the state. These services will include the delivery and expansion of rural broadband connectivity, telemedicine, smart metering, and advanced air-to-ground networks for commercial aviation and unmanned air systems (UAS). The Center will also be working with communities to expand their emergency service networks.

“A tremendous fiber network exists throughout the state of North Carolina; the addition of fixed wireless networks will allow these services to reach all of the state in a timely and cost effective manner,” said Larry Steffann, General Manager of the Wireless Research Center. “This also allows for the creation of companies and to accelerate product development thus having an impact locally and beyond.”

This new capability enables WRC to aid entities in the evaluation and implementation of emerging technologies and wireless networks.  Using the portable towers, these networks can exist in lieu of, or prior to, the deployment of a permanent system allowing for the testing of coverage and verifying the reliability of service before committing to a permanent installation.

“The reach into the rural communities has the potential for great impact,” said Mark Sorrells, Senior Vice President of the Golden LEAF Foundation. “This service can help bridge the economic and digital divide that often exists in rural communities which can serve to level the playing field and make rural areas more attractive for business and entrepreneurial development.”


Demand for access to reliable high-speed internet is increasing exponentially.  Communities outside of the largest metropolitan areas will require fixed wireless networks to provide Internet access, in order to deliver services equivalent to those offered in the urban center of North Carolina where extensive fiber coverage exists. The use of the portable towers will facilitate the expansion of existing wireless networks and the introduction of emerging technologies that support greater connectivity.

SmartSky Networks is an emerging Charlotte-based corporation that recently announced the deployment of a nationwide 4G terrestrial network. The use of the portable towers allows SmartSky Networks flexibility during its initial stages of deployment.

Access to these capabilities will benefit a broad range of initiatives throughout the state. The WRC works closely with the NC Department of Commerce, the NextGen Air Transportation (NGAT) Center at North Carolina State University, the North Carolina Defense Business Association (NCDBA), the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC), and other organizations throughout the state.

About Wireless Research Center of North Carolina
Headquartered in and supported by the City of Wake Forest, NC, the Wireless Research Center of North Carolina (WRC) is a non-profit organization that offers engineering services and testing for wireless communications. Twice awarded grants from the Golden LEAF Foundation, the WRC facilitates entrepreneurial development for wireless-enabled technologies. Its global customer base produces a diverse range of wireless products ranging from on-body and in-body medical devices to wide-area networks and rural broadband. The WRC fosters collaboration among industry partners, academic institutions and research organizations, and is a CTIA-certified testing facility. For more information, visit www.wirelesscenter-nc.org.

About Golden LEAF Foundation
The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,216 grants worth over $538 million since its inception. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit www.goldenleaf.org or call (888) 684-8404.


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