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In discussing 5G technology, regulators eye privacy concerns

Media Contact

Rebecca Valli

This week, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on 5G wireless technology and its potential for the U.S. economy. 

Associate Professor of Economics at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Aija Leiponen

Associate Professor of Economics at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Aija Leiponen, professor at Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management studies the telecommunication industry and has written extensively about the management and governance of big data. Leiponen says regulators discussing 5G systems need to set standards not only on spectrum allocation, but also on privacy protection – given the big data nature of these networks.

Leiponen says: 

“5G communication networks will enable new types of communication services, particularly extensive machine-to-machine communications.

“While there are technical challenges in creating the components that enable such ultra-high-speed communications, the thorniest issues will be business strategic and regulatory. The House subcommittee is wise to begin to think about the issues because these emerging networks will determine the communication infrastructure of the next decades.

“Some of the hardest issues will concern data confidentiality. The promise of 5G Internet of Things (IoT) applications is based on machine-to-machine transfer of data. However, such transfer will not be widespread and reach its potential value unless individuals and organizations are willing to share or trade some of the data. For example, the value of autonomous electric vehicle-based IoT networks arises from the opportunities to collect and integrate traffic information, coordinate routing and charging, and optimize electricity generation and use. Without data sharing across vehicles and devices, the full benefits of the system will not be realized.

“However, sharing or trading data across service providers and products is difficult to achieve because the data are valuable, confidential and difficult to protect. Therefore, in addition to the basic global standards and spectrum allocation, legislators and policymakers will need to consider how the emerging IoT data economy will be regulated via data rights, intellectual property rights, algorithmic standards and privacy rules.”

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