Massive MIMO Expert Thomas Marzetta from NYU Tandon Receives Prestigious IEEE Industrial Innovation Award

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has declared Thomas L. Marzetta as the winner of the 2017 Communications Society Industrial Innovation Award. Marzetta, who in September 2017 joined NYU Tandon as a Distinguished Industry Professor and member of the faculty of NYU WIRELESS, a multi-school research center, received the award on December 5, 2017, in conjunction with IEEE GLOBECOM, a flagship conference of the IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc) and the world's largest annual gathering of communications engineering professionals from academia, industry, and government.

Marzetta has won the award in recognition for his work on "originating the concept of Massive MIMO, and for sustained contributions to the development and promotion of that technology." Massive MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) is considered a key enabler for 5G technology.

It utilizes numerous small, individually controlled, low-power antennas to direct streams of information, selectively and simultaneously, to many users. This confers spectral efficiency orders of magnitude greater than that experienced in 4G service, along with high-quality service throughout the cell, simplicity and scalability, and outstanding energy efficiency. Such improvements in speed, system throughput, and capacity are critical: Mobile traffic has grown 18-fold over the past five years; in 2021 it will be seven times higher than it was in 2016, video will account for more than 78 percent of all mobile data, and smart terminals will consume an average of 15 GB of data per month.

Marzetta developed the concept of Massive MIMO during his 22 years at Bell Labs, where he directed the Communications and Statistical Sciences Department within the former Mathematical Sciences Research Center. In 2014 he was elected a Bell Labs Fellow. His seminal paper on Massive MIMO, “Non-cooperative cellular wireless with unlimited numbers of base station antennas”, published in 2010 in IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, has been cited nearly 3,000 times. He is the author or co-author of more than 220 published papers and is the lead author of the book Fundamentals of Massive MIMO, published last year.

A fellow of the IEEE, Marzetta has received many other honors from the Institute. In 2013 he garnered the IEEE Guglielmo Marconi Prize Paper Award. In 2015 he won both, the IEEE Stephen O. Rice Prize and the IEEE W. R. G. Baker Award. The article “Five Disruptive Technology Directions for 5G”, which he co-authored, also won the 2016 IEEE Fred W. Ellersick Prize, given annually for the best article published in a IEEE Communications Society Magazine in the previous three calendar years.

After graduating with a doctorate in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978, Marzetta began work in the field of petroleum exploration at Schlumberger-Doll Research. In 1995 he moved to the defense industry, spending eight years at Nichols Research Corporation to work on radar signal processing and video motion detection.

As a faculty member of NYU WIRELESS, a multidisciplinary research center founded in 2012 to develop the fundamental theories and techniques for next-generation mass-deployable wireless devices, he is focusing on the sixth generation of wireless technology. Within a research initiative that he calls "Beyond Massive MIMO", he is investigating entirely new principles of operation which could result in wireless systems performing at a level orders-of-magnitude above that of Massive MIMO.