Via NY Daily News
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would be granting experimental licenses for companies in New York City and Salt Lake City to test new advanced technologies and networks in specific geographic areas.
This initiative, dubbed Innovation Zones, will be especially useful in testing various technologies in real-world settings that will support 5G wireless networks. These networks will offer a range of advanced wireless services nationwide, with initial rollout in urban centers where spatial and population density makes technical and economic sense.
The National Science Foundation’s Platform for Advanced Wireless Research formally proposed these particular Innovation Zones, to “enable experimental exploration of robust new wireless devices, communication techniques, networks, systems, and services that will revolutionize the nation’s wireless ecosystem, thereby enhancing broadband connectivity, leveraging the emerging Internet of Things, and sustaining U.S. leadership and economic competitiveness for decades to come.”
Here’s a way that the FCC can use these Innovation Zones for multiple purposes. Since 5G networks will increase consumer demand for new wireless services, they also may create a communications environment where protection of consumer data becomes more difficult in practice. That’s because a range of blossoming wireless services — both free and paid — will combine communications capability with other features, such as location tracking and facial recognition. These are not unique to 5G technology, but its availability will spur big companies and entrepreneurs alike to develop compelling new applications that can take advantage of this more robust wireless platform.
The current Innovation Zone regime will allow qualifying firms to construct testing for multiple non-related experiments under a single five-year authorization within a defined geographic area. The initial two Innovation Zones will allow licensees to undertake their activities in a dense area between Columbia University and Harlem in New York City, and encompassing both the University of Utah campus and downtown Salt Lake City, including the corridor connecting the two.
Why not make them Data Privacy Innovation Zones as well? The FCC, as a condition of granting these experimental licenses, has the legal authority to require that any new wireless services to be tested also experiment with different forms of consumer privacy protection.