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New York and Salt Lake are about to become 5G test-bed cities

The newly named "Innovation Zones" will get city-scale testing of advanced wireless technologies like 5G.

Start of the 5G mobile phone auction
The FCC names New York and Salt Lake cities "Innovation Zones."
Image: Getty Images / picture alliance

The Federal Communications Commission named New York City and Salt Lake City as its first two "Innovation Zones" on Wednesday. The two metro areas will act as city-scale test-beds for advanced wireless communications and network research and experimentation, including 5G, according to a press release. 

Both cities already have licensed experimental programs under way. The Innovation Zone extends the areas in which tests can be done, and gives the flexibility to conduct multiple experiments under one authorization. It's meant to help develop new technologies and services, while also protecting existing services against interference, the release said. 

"These projects will test new advanced technologies and prototype networks like those that can support 5G technologies," FCC Chair Ajit Pai said in the release. "We're also establishing a process to ensure new innovators can have access to this testing resource while protecting current, licensed users." 

This won't be either city's first foray into 5G: AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have all announced that they are building 5G networks in New York City, and some have launched 5G in parts of the city already. Verizon also plans to have 5G launched in Salt Lake City and more than 30 others by the end of 2019. 

Innovation Zones -- which are supported by the National Science Foundation, as well as a group of telecom and tech companies -- will pair local universities and cities for test-bed development and deployment. Researchers with experimental licenses in other areas can also use these zones, the release said. All involved must comply with FCC guidelines and provide advanced notice of their projects. 

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