Action Packed TWS 2016 Features 5G World Debut, Startup Showcase and UT SAVES Launch

Share this content

November 22, 2016

The Texas Wireless Summit (TWS) is a unique event that brings the high profile of a world-class conference right to UT Austin’s front door. Hosted by WNCG, TWS offers direct access to cutting-edge research and innovations from industry leaders, academics, investors and startups. The 14th annual TWS saw record high attendance with nearly 300 participants consisting of academics, industry partners, business leaders, researchers and students from across the world.

Held at the Blanton Museum of Art’s Edgar Smith building, TWS 2016 focused on how automated vehicles will re-shape wireless over the next 10 years with their demands for coordinated sensing and decision making. The conference explored three aspects of automation, including communication, sensing, data analytics and intelligence.

“This year was special for a couple of reasons,” WNCG Professor and TWS Faculty Co-Chair, Todd Humphreys, states. “We had the opportunity to host the world-debut for the AT&T vision of 5G, to host startups from across the country in a competition, and to introduce the UT SAVES initiative.”

AT&T and Ericsson 5G Demo

Millimeter wave is an essential and fundamental component for 5G mobile networks and AT&T’s plans. The 5G demo at TWS showcased the possibility and feasibility of millimeter wave radio access technology for the cellular networks of the future. Developed by Ericsson, the new systems incorporated key 5G technologies, including large system bandwidth, phased arrays with ultra-fast beam steering, feedback-based hybrid precoding, multi-user Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), dynamic beam tracking and beam acquisition. The TWS debut marked the first time AT&T revealed this 5G technology to the public.

“What we’re showing here is a millimeter wave based system of what we envision 5G to be,” AT&T’s Assistant Vice President and WNCG Industrial Affiliate representative, Dave Wolter states. “It should be noted that 5G and millimeter wave are not synonymous and that 5G will operate in a different gigahertz as well as in millimeter wave. What we’re showing is the system operating on 800 megahertz of bandwidth. We’re demonstrating some of the enabling technology for millimeter wave.”

The technology for the demo included a base station and two antenna systems with an eight-by-eight array forming 41 beams. Both arrays, each with two polarizations, created four independent streams so the base station could talk to the user end equipment.

To demonstrate the new technology, AT&T provided a large screen TV that displayed a 4K video, the aggregated throughput of the system and slides containing basic concepts of the demonstration, including single user MIMO and elements that allowed the system to change uplink and downlink amounts to get different data rates.

The entire system was made of eight component carriers. While one carrier transmitted the video visible on the demonstration screen, the other seven ran data at the fastest possible rate. The 4K video displayed a view of the room in which the demonstration was held and the user equipment. White dots on the screen demonstrated where different beams could be focused by the base station and a green circle moved between different beams as it optimized throughput in the case of interferences and blockages. A small box in the corner of the screen demonstrated the probability of modulation and the coding scheme being used in real time.

“The demo allowed us to show some of the capability we have with millimeter wave,” Wolter states. “This is the first time AT&T has shared a demo of some of our work with the public. As we improve our capability we add to our testbed and feedback into 3GPP, where we use the benefit of our knowledge to help improve the standards.”

For more on the TWS 5G Demo, watch Dave Wolter’s presentation, courtesy of RCR Wireless, online at:

Austin Technology Incubator’s Autotech Startup Showcase

Produced as a partnership between TWS and the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) and sponsored by Rohde and Schwarz, the showcase identified promising autotech startups from across the country and created a distinct platform for exposure and industry engagement.

“The showcase is not just about wireless communications technology, but about the business models one needs to enable those solutions to come to market,” ATI’s Assistant Director of Clean Energy, Kathleen Baireuther, states.

Out of dozens of applications, only eight companies were selected to participate in the final showcase competition, held during TWS 2016. The startups competed in a fast-pitch session and juried showcase. The first-place recipient, Kenguru, received a $5,000 prize from Rohde and Schwarz, as well as admission to ATI. 

A panel of five independent judges volunteered their time and expertise to determine the winner. These judges included: UT Austin Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise Bob Metcalfe, NXP ADAS Product Manager for Automotive Microcontrollers and Processors Roger Keen, Moovel North America VP of Marketing Rachel Charlesworth, Southwest Research Institute R&D Manager in the Cooperative Systems Section Eric Thorn and UT Austin’s Network Modeling Center Assistant Director Prof. Natalia Ruiz.

The startup competitors included: Acerta, a platform that analyzes vehicle data to detect problems and predict failures; Astrapi, which commercializes spiral modulation; Civic Smart, which has enabled over 2,000 cities to unlock smart parking solutions; Fathym, which offers end-to-end IOT, data capture, analytics, alerting, visualization and messaging solutions; Kenguru, which provides electric low speed vehicles to drivers with physical disabilities in wheelchairs; Molocar, which streamlines the car shopping experience for both dealers and customers; Radiosense, which provides low-cost, centimeter-accurate precise positioning systems for automated vehicles; and SPLT, an enterprise-first carpooling platform that connects drivers and riders within organizations to share the commute.

The startup showcase allowed startups to network with business leaders, academics, students and investors to raise awareness, and sometimes funds, for their new ventures.  

Introduction of UT SAVES Initiative

In partnership with UT Austin’s Center for Transportation Research (CTR), WNCG faculty recently launched the SAVES initiative to explore the emerging interconnection between wireless and transportation. As part of WNCG, SAVES combines WNCG’s expertise in wireless networking and communications, data, and signal processing, with CTR’s experience in transportation, traffic modeling, policy and planning to help reduce collisions, design faster commutes, and increase connectivity to make the automated aspects of driving more efficient.

“The collaboration between WNCG and CTR allows us to come together and ask tough questions,” Prof. Heath states. “It has shown us that this is such an important area and there are many intriguing questions left to be answered.”

The three pillars of SAVES include communications, which seek to create higher data rates and lower latency, sensing to establish better sensing technology and fuse sensor data, and data analytics so that sensor data can be combined and made available for transportation departments and city planners so they can better manage transportation networks and commute times.

The new initiative was announced during this year’s TWS. In conjunction with their founding partners, Toyota ITC, Huawei, and National Instruments, the following UT Austin faculty will also provide their expertise to the new research initiative: Alan Bovik, Edison Thomaz, Todd Humphreys, Robert Heath, Gustavo de Veciana, Joydeep Ghosh and Evdokia Nikolova.


In addition to these key highlights, TWS 2016 also featured a lineup of world-renowned speakers, including: keynote speakers Sanjiv Nanda (Qualcomm) and Peter Stone (UT Austin); Sue Bai (Honda), Brian Modoff (Qualcomm), Greg Kregoski (Rohde and Schwarz), Gaurav Bansal (Toyota ITC), Chris Borroni-Bird (Qualcomm), Kris Kozak (Southwest Research Institute), Arunabha Ghosh (AT&T Labs), Charles Schroeder (National Instruments), Geoff Waters (NXP), Robert Heath (WNCG-UT Austin), Thyagarajan Nandagopal (NSF), Todd Humphreys (WNCG-UT Austin), Prakash Kartha (Intel), David Brenner (Intel) and Jianming Ma (TXDOT).

Looking for photos from the event? Be sure to check out our album, available on flickr, and feel free to download and share photos to your social media channels. The flickr album is available here:

Want to replay your favorite talks from TWS 2016? You can watch the entire event again online (or choose specific talks to view), by visiting the video playlist provided by RCR Wireless. The entire playlist is available online via our YouTube channel at: 

TWS would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous support of this year’s event: Michael Best, Norton Rose Fulbright, Huawei, Rohde and Schwarz, Qualcomm, the Open Connectivity Foundation, Toyota InfoTechnology Center, National Instruments, RCR Wireless, IEEE Communications Society Austin Chapter, Austin Technology Incubator, and UT Austin’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

News category: