CORNET Testbed at Wireless@Virginia Tech

Wireless @ Virginia Tech focuses on research to meet the current and evolving needs of wireless markets. The current areas of research are:

  • Cognitive and Dynamic Spectrum Access Systems
  • Wireless and Spectrum Security
  • Emerging Communication Networks
  • Applied Signal Processing
  • RF Analysis and Technologies

Wireless@Virginia Tech uses the 10G connection to improve the accessibility to the cognitive radio network (CORNET) testbed. CORNET is a university-wide testbed that enables research and education on software-defined radio (SDR), cognitive radio and dynamic spectrum access, among others. It consists of 48 indoor SDR nodes, 14 fixed outdoor nodes and 6 mobile/portable units (O-CORNET), and a few LTE-capable nodes (LTE-CORNET*). Except for the mobile units, all other nodes can be remotely accessed and provide an opportunity for students and professionals around the world to learn about and experiment with new waveform designs, network deployments and spectrum/resource management algorithms.

At the time that the Virginia Tech Research Network (VT-Rnet) connection was received, CORNET was a 48-node testbed. Since that time, an NSF CRI-II award was received to upgrade the testbed with 30 additional radio with state-of-the art radio communications and computing capabilities [1].

Since then, CORNET has been upgraded with 12 SDR radios which increases the bandwidth of radio signals that can be digitized from approximately 25 MHz on each node to 160 MHz. The new equipment widens the types of wireless communications research which can be performed. It requires the increased bandwidth of the 10-Gbps connection to operate as designed. Examples where the increased capability of the research network supports research include: (1) applications that require transmission of raw digitized samples to remote locations over a network for high-speed processing on remotely located equipment; (2) applications that require concurrent use of data transfer to / from multiple CORNET radio nodes; (3) “federated testbed” experimentation that links CORNET and other remotely located radio testbeds, such as [2], in a way that signals from each testbed may be retransmitted on one or more other testbeds; (4) visualization using CORNET 3D (designed and developed by Virginia Tech’s Advanced Research Computing in cooperation with Wireless@VT), to provide high bandwidth or rapidly updated 3D spectrum plots for multiple nodes concurrently; and (5) demonstrations or educational activities in which wideband signals such as video may be streamed concurrently to one or more CORNET radios, transmitted over the air, received, and streamed back to one or multiple remote locations.

Currently, the 10 gigabit connection is being used to enhance tutorials in wireless communications that for a pilot ECE 5674 in fall 2016 and will be used in several graduate and undergraduate classes during fall of 2017. The tutorials are part of the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) project funded by the NSF [3]. Software exercises designed to complement the background theory of the tutorials will make use of web applications to display real time spectrum from one or more CORNET radios. The increased bandwidth of the 10 gigabit connection allows several users to access the Web application at the same time.

Other educational activities include the Spectrum sharing radio challenge (Spectrum-ShaRC), which was held in two consecutive years, with external funding support from several sources [4].

A new project that was recently won by the PI will build a model city for unmanned aerial systems and wireless research [5]. Wireless communications is a key component of this new testbed. We will leverage CORNET resources and benefit from the fast access for testbed federation, recreation of signaling, etc. For UAV test flight across campus, Outdoor-CORNET nodes can be used [6].

A large-scale proposal that was enabled by continuing upgrades to CORNET is the Platform for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR), which will award $20M to build a large-scale, production-like platform for R&D in wireless communications [7]. Virginia Tech was invited to submit the full proposal after initial round of review. The proposed testbed, if awarded, will be built in Arlington and will use CORNET as the testbed development platform.


  1. NSF Award Abstract #1629935, “II-EN: Radio Testbed Upgrade to Enable Wideband and MIMO Experiments,”
  2. NSF Award Abstract #1432416, “Wireless Communication Testbeds for Authentic STEM Learning,”
  3. DURIP 2017 (ARO), “Model city for unmanned aerial systems and wireless research”, PI: Carl Dietrich,


  1. V. Marojevic, D. Chheda, R. Rao, R. Nealy, J. Park, J.H. Reed, “Software-defined testbed enabling rapid prototyping and controlled experiments for the LTE evolution,” Proc. IEEE WCNC, 19-22 Mar. 2017.

Other Related Activites

  1. Spectrum-ShaRC,
  2. Wireless Innovation Forum, Dynamic Spectrum Sharing Annual Report – 2014, Document WINNF-14-P-0001, Version V0.2.16, 14 August 2014.”.
  3. PAWR Project Office Web Site,