SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake and New York are about to become "test beds" for advanced wireless technologies like 5G, the Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday.
The two cities will be what the FCC calls "Innovation Zones" or city-scale experiments for advanced wireless communications and network research.
Both cities already have licensed experimental programs under way (Salt Lake's is called POWDER), but the Innovation Zones extend the area where tests can be done and lets researchers conduct multiple experiments "under one authorization." It also allows licensed programs in other areas to use the New York and Salt Lake zones.
The National Science Foundation formally proposed the Innovation Zones, claiming that they would "enable experimental exploration of robust new wireless devices, communication techniques, networks, systems, and services that will revolutionize the nation's wireless ecosystem."
Salt Lake's zone will support POWDER, or Platform for Open Wireless Data-driven Experimental Research, which essentially provides equipment for researchers to conduct experiments "in a city scale 'living laboratory,'" the website reads. It will be run jointly by the University of Utah and Rice University.
The program will allow researchers to access its programmable equipment from anywhere in the world to run their own software to create experimental networks.
“Few concepts are more central to America than experimentation and innovation. It’s what we do best,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a news release. “So it’s exciting and inspiring to see our Innovation Zones program taking off. These projects will test new advanced technologies and prototype networks like those that can support 5G technologies"
5G has been hotly anticipated for years and is expected to come into its own this year.
5G stands for the fifth-generation of cellular wireless, with each generation marked by a new method of encoding or conversion of data into characters and symbols. 5G stands apart for three reasons: faster speed, lower latency (or delay) and its ability to connect a lot of devices at once.
Verizon has promised 5G will come to Salt Lake by the end of 2019.