On October 17, 2019, Executive Director, Chris Wood spoke on DC radio station WJFK to discuss the work of LGBT Tech and PowerOn. In this interview with Stevie Bridgewaters, Chris touches specifically on the importance of 5G in bridging gaps between LGBTQ+ populations and technological access.
In an increasingly tech-driven world, access to technology can mean access to employment, education, and other resources, many of which have moved almost exclusively online. "The hope and the benefit," Chris tells Stevie, "is that 5G is gonna bring gigabyte speeds to your phone, because a lot of people don't even have gigabyte speeds in their homes right now."
One of the cities and companies within that city working to expand 5G access is Washington, DC. According to Chris, "Here in DC, we have the director of DDoT [Jeff Marootian] really pushing to make sure 5G is continuing to be spread, not just in parts of the district, but all over the district - because everyone deserves equal access." Although, from a global perspective, the United States has lagged behind many other countries around the world in 5G deployment. One of the individuals working to change that is FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel stating the following on Capitol Hill earlier this year "However, earlier this year the Defense Innovation Board—the United States military’s premier advisory board of academic researchers and private sector technologists—surveyed the state of next-generation 5G networks and issued a sober warning. They found that “the country that owns 5G will own innovations and set the standards for the rest of the world,” and “that country is currently not likely to be the United States.”
For areas without 5G, satellite internet can be a viable alternative for some. Satellite, however, comes with a literal cost that many just can't afford. As Chris tells Stevie, "Satellite internet is great, but still very expensive, and you can't really access it unless you have the economic power to do so - and that's a disservice, especially as our youth and our kids are required to do homework online."
Those whose families can't afford internet access or the technology to access it have to rely on resources outside of home - after school programs, community centers, and other places with free Wi-Fi and accessible tech. "They're working twice, or three times as hard to complete the same education as everyone else, and that's just not fair."
Whether through the PowerOn program that connects LGBTQ+ individuals and centers with the tech they need, or through advocating for policy and legislation that protects LGBTQ+ communities, LGBT Tech will continue to work on these issues, along with others that lie at the intersection of technology and LGBTQ+ communities. As Chris says in the interview, "not everybody has the same connectivity, so help us make sure that everybody does."
Listen to the full WJFK interview.
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