USC cancer research center plans private 5G network

The Institute for Transformative Medicine at USC will use the new network to collect data and manage labs.

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Researchers at the Institute for Transformative Medicine at USC will use a new 5G+ network to support research on 3D imaging of tumors.

Image: GettyImages/Bloomberg

Researchers, doctors and patients at the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC will have a new tool for collaboration this summer—a private 5G+ and internet of things network. Data collected via the network will be used to make decisions about patient care and research, such as 3D imaging of tumors.

Researchers at the institute will use the 5G connectivity and Internet of Things network to collect data from patients, healthcare providers and scientists and to manage clinics and labs, David Agus, CEO, Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC, said in a press release. 

SEE: Future of 5G: Projections, rollouts, use cases, and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

"Data is at the core of everything we do at the Ellison Institute, and our work with AT&T enables us to capture and employ that data in meaningful ways that benefits science and our patients," Agus said.

AT&T's Multi-Access Edge network is scheduled to go live at the Institute in June 2021 with the rollout of a 5G+ millimeter-wave network at the Institute planned to start by summer. The edge network offers ultra-low latency and better connectivity and coverage, according to AT&T. Also, data on this network is kept on the local network, instead of being sent to the cloud for processing. The network also can be programmed to connect cellular and wired networks, according to the company.

Anne Chow, CEO, AT&T Business, said in a press release that one lesson everyone has learned from the pandemic is the need to treat and monitor patients remotely. 

"5G's fast speeds and lower latency can help expand the use of telemedicine, and it can help deliver the near real-time data healthcare providers need to make quick decisions," she said.

The center plans to give digital bracelets to patients to help them navigate the 80,000-square-foot facility. Patients will receive appointment alerts via the bracelets as well. 

The institute uses a community model of care that encourages patients, researchers and doctors to interact. The institute will use the new connectivity from the 5G+ network to build more connection points and track how well various communication methods work. The center  will track patient engagement throughout the facility which includes a demonstration kitchen and a history of medicine gallery. The center also plans to use the network to customize lighting and music inpatient rooms based on an individual's requests. 

AT&T also will be building a private 5G network on the Stamford Lab campus at the University of Connecticut.

Private 5G networks are growing across several industries, including mining. Nokia announced in April that mining companies in Russia and Chile had tested networks deep underground to improve operations and safety. 

Remote locations in America also have expanded high-speed connectivity over the last six months thanks to funding from the CARES Act. Native American tribes in four states are working with Nokia and local telco companies to bring better connections to students, entrepreneurs and doctors on reservations. This expansion started in early 2020 when the FCC offered the unused Educational Broadband Service spectrum to Native American tribes. Four hundred federally recognized tribes applied for and won the use of the spectrum, representing 12,000 square miles and more than 30,000 people. The next piece of the puzzle was broadband funding from the CARES Act in March 2020.

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