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No Time to Lose on the Digital Divide

With the clock ticking on progress for millions of Americans stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide, the FCC should quickly address renewed questions about the dedication of new spectrum to 5G mobile networks that the FAA and major airlines have raised. It’s vital to keep the long-planned and vitally necessary deployment of advanced 5G communications networks on track.

Safety is of course paramount and the FCC’s engineering team has a long track record successfully evaluating and resolving questions about safe use of spectrum to serve important public priorities. As Public Knowledge Senior Vice President Harold Feld, a respected progressive telecom expert, has explained “FCC engineers are always going to err on the side of caution; they are not ignoring any of the safety concerns. They take the fact that people’s lives are at stake very, very seriously when they do this work.”

The FCC should of course again address any new issues or questions that the airline advocates and Federal Aviation Administration identify. But after years of study, that should happen quickly and with no further or indefinite delays so that 5G can reach its full potential.

LGBT Tech has spoken often about the potential of 5G to transform technological access to unserved and underserved communities, such as the LGBTQ community, by helping to close the digital divide and allow individuals to access basic yet essential services. This is significant since minority communities like the LGBTQ community cannot afford to fall behind in the technology race when adequate access to reliable fast technology can impact everything from healthcare, education, economic opportunities or finding a safe community online and could make a huge difference between success and failure in everyday life.

5G has enormous potential to be a powerful tool to eradicate the digital divide as it has the potential to provide faster communications and increase response times for underserved and unserved communities. Other experts have observed that for communities of color, 5G can literally make the difference between participating in the modern digital economy or being shut out: “For low-income segments of these populations, wireless connectivity is most likely their only online access.”

For these reasons, LGBT Tech has consistently supported the FCC efforts to bring 5G technology to the masses as quickly as possible. Technology, through smartphones and wireless broadband networks, connects and empowers the LGBTQ community regardless of their geographic location. The internet has been a lifeline for LGBT people in smaller towns and remote communities, in particular. We join advocates and experts including progressive former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler in urging a quick and decisive path forward for 5G to help close the digital divide and deliver affordable high speed broadband to Americans nationwide.

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