Northeastern University was designated as a Spectrum Innovation Zone by the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday, a status that will afford researchers at the university new opportunities to build and test the next generation of wireless technology.

Members of the FCC voted 4-0 to create Innovation Zones at Northeastern’s campuses in Boston and Burlington, Massachusetts, establishing the university as the fourth such hub in the United States.

“This designation consolidates Northeastern University’s role as a leader and innovator of wireless research,” said Tommaso Melodia, who is the William Lincoln Smith Chair Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern, as well as director of the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things.

The university joins Raleigh, North Carolina; New York City; and Salt Lake City in conducting groundbreaking research of 5G, 6G, and other wireless modalities. The work is supported by the National Science Foundation through its Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research.

“This is a big deal,” FCC acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel said at Thursday’s meeting to approve the zone. “History tells us when you give innovators in the United States sandboxes to test new ideas, good things follow.”

The Northeastern University Innovation Zone is the first to enable experimentation for wireless communications and sensing technologies above 100 gigahertz, including a frequency band that “is crucial for the development of 6G technologies,” Melodia said.


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