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The gap between fundamental research in wireless technologies and their real-world testing has been growing rapidly. As the wireless research community pursues the “next big idea”, many discoveries and basic research findings from universities and national labs end up not getting tested in the field. Validating research outcomes via theoretical analysis and computer simulations alone carries the risk of using models that fall short of capturing real-world circumstances, including propagation conditions, waveforms, protocol aspects, and hardware impairments. These shortcomings in such evaluation methodologies may result in misleading conclusions about the real-world performance of new technology. Even when experiments are conducted, they may often be carried out with a narrow geographical and/or technical scope that is not representative of their typical deployment and operational environments, nor can they be reproduced. Many corporations, on the other hand, are often focused on product development and on short-term research agendas with an immediate impact on revenue, and market pressures may not always permit investing in fundamental research studies and their real-world testing. 

To fill this “valley of death” and enable experimentation with advanced wireless technologies at scale, various open, programmable, and remotely accessible wireless community testbeds (WCTs) have been developed in the past years. Rather than being institutional testbeds, these WCTs are meant to serve the experimental needs of the broader wireless research community. For example, in the United States, Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) WCTs have been funded by the National Science Foundation, which includes POWDER, COSMOS, AERPAW, ARA, and Colosseum, and these platforms are accessible to researchers from academia, industry, and government. In Europe, the Fed4Fire project and the new ESFRI SLICES initiative are addressing this objective. IEEE Future Networks initiative is also working on creating a virtual testing platform to accelerate innovations in 5G networks and beyond.  Collectively, these WCTs support experiments in a variety of wireless propagation environments including urban, suburban, rural, fixed wireless and high-mobility, and air-to-ground. They also support experiments in various vertical use cases, including but not limited to smart cities, smart agriculture, public safety, vehicular networks, and advanced aerial mobility. Users of these WCTs can often develop and test their experiments initially using a “digital twin” of the actual testbed, which subsequently gets deployed in the real world. In parallel, fueled by the recent advances in Open RAN technologies, various Open Testing and Integration Centers (OTICs) have also been launched across the world, hosted by academic institutions and companies, to support experimentation and testing with next-generation wireless technologies developed by researchers in industry, academia, and government.

With the WCTs and OTICS reaching fruition in the past years, we have seen an increase in the research carried out in these testbeds. Various workshops have been dedicated to studying experimental results with open-source platforms and at WCTs, including but not limited to ACM WiNTECH Workshop, IEEE INFOCOM CNERT, IEEE Testbeds4Wireless Workshop, GNU Radio Conference, IEEE Globecom FutureG Experimental Test Platforms, workshops organized by srsRAN and OpenAirInterface, workshops organized by the individual PAWR platforms, among others. With this background, this Feature Topic (FT) aims to bring together researchers, industry practitioners, and individuals working on experimentation and research in large-scale WCTs, OTICs, and their digital twins, to share their new ideas, latest findings, and state-of-the-art results. Prospective authors are invited to submit articles on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Experimental results on 5G/6G technologies in WCTs;
  • Large scale emulation experiments in digital twins;
  • Experimental studies at millimeter wave, sub-terahertz, and terahertz bands using WCTs;
  • Experimental studies on spectrum utilization, sharing, coexistence, and radio dynamic zones using WCTs;
  • Experimental studies on fundamental technologies for next generation wireless networks, including but not limited to massive MIMO, new waveforms (e.g., OTFS, FBMC), and new multiple access techniques (e.g., NOMA, RSMA);
  • Experimental and testing results on Open RAN technologies at WCTs and OTICs; 
  • Field deployment and performance evaluation of AI/ML techniques using WCTs;
  • Large scale testing of non-cellular technologies including WiFi and LoRa at WCTs;
  • Channel propagation measurements and modeling using WCTs;
  • Experimentation on vertical use case scenarios using WCTs, including but not limited smart cities, smart agriculture, smart grids, public safety, vehicular networks, and drones;
  • Research studies documenting design, development, deployment, and operational challenges of WCTs and OTICs;
  • Current and emerging use cases of WCTs and lessons learned from experimentation with 3GPP, O-RAN, WiFi, and other standards at WCTs;
  • Open research data and reproducibility of experiments;
  • Experiences in configuring WCTs as a general-purpose data generation platform that can serve more than one specific use case.

Manuscripts that report results exclusively based on simulations and analysis, and smaller scale experimental evaluations such as bench-testing and lab-testing are outside the scope of this feature topic.

Submission Guidelines

Manuscripts should conform to the standard format as indicated in the Information for Authors section of the Manuscript Submission Guidelines. Please, check these guidelines carefully before submitting since submissions not complying with them will be administratively rejected without review.

All manuscripts to be considered for publication must be submitted by the deadline through Manuscript Central. Select the “FT-2307/ Experimentation in Large-Scale Wireless Community Testbeds” topic from the drop-down menu of Topic/Series titles. Please observe the dates specified here below noting that there will be no extension of the submission deadline.

Important Dates

Manuscript Submission Deadline: 15 May 2024
Decision Notification: 15 August 2024
Final Manuscript Due: 15 October 2024
Publication Date: 15 December 2024

Guest Editors

Ismail Guvenc
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Kaushik Chowdhury
Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Serge Fdida
Sorbonne University, Paris, France

Masafumi Masuda
NTT DOCOMO, Tokyo, Japan