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Idaho National Laboratory is launching a new security institute to study ways to secure fifth-generation wireless technology.

The INL Wireless Security Institute will “lead and coordinate government, academic, and private industry research efforts fostering more secure and reliable 5G wireless technology,” an INL news release said. “The Institute draws on INL’s extensive expertise and unique facilities that have been used for more than two decades to analyze, design, test, and improve cellular, radio and satellite communication systems for government agencies and global wireless communication companies.”

While INL has done research into wireless technology in the past and has expanded its wireless research capabilities in recent years, this institute will bring these efforts under one umbrella, said lab spokesman Ethan Huffman.

“There really isn’t anything like that that exists right now holistically,” Huffman said.

Cellular carriers are rolling out 5G technology, which is faster than the previous 4G technology, in a few cities now. U.S. Cellular is introducing it in Wisconsin and Iowa in 2020, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the Denver Post reported Friday that several carriers plan to introduce it in Denver. 5G capability is being built into some phones and other devices now, Huffman said, and he expects its use to expand in the future. Huffman said INL already does a lot of communications work with the military and first responders and he expects the institute to work with every federal agency down the road.

“5G has the potential to drastically change how information is exchanged for communication and control using wireless networks,” Arupjyoti Bhuyan, the Institute’s technical director, said in a statement. “It will make autonomous vehicles a reality, it will enable a fleet of drones to communicate during public safety, and it will improve the speed of information exchange by at least 10 times. Before 5G is deployed nationwide, the technology must be trusted, and security is a critical component of trust.”

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.