Updated: Oct 14, 2020
LGBT Tech has long supported efforts at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to bring 5G technology to the market as efficiently and effectively as possible. The model we are currently operating under—in which the federal government auctions off 5G spectrum to wireless companies in order for them to develop multiple, competing networks—is working well to accelerate 5G development 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.
Importantly, current efforts to build next-generation networks help underserved and vulnerable communities like ours – particularly in America’s rural, hard-to-reach areas where access to high-speed internet services is scarcest. However, some companies and special interest groups are calling for the federal government to take control and develop a single, national 5G network. A bureaucratic takeover of 5G could set back development efforts by years, hurting already-struggling rural and LGBTQ+ individuals and communities the most.
The rapid development of broadband and 5G networks—as well as the growth and expansion of the entire internet itself—has been in large part due efforts made by the private sector (all three major national carriers already launched 5G services mid-last year and, by 2023, it’s projected that nearly half of all mobile users in North America will be connected to 5G). This model has not only yielded impressive growth over the years, but has even held up to a global pandemic, with most Americans’ high-speed internet access and services barely being impacted despite a massive spike in internet use.
It doesn’t make sense to abandon the current approach that is delivering results in order to pursue a costly government-run network. A nationalized 5G network could cause massive delays in development and deployment with little to no reprieve on for American taxpayers. The nationalized 5G proposals being put forward today are coming from companies with little to no experience developing communications networks – they would essentially have to start from scratch since they do not own any of the key infrastructure like towers or fiber that keep us all connected.
The LGBTQ+ community and other underserved and vulnerable communities stand to gain the most from advanced 5G and other emerging technologies. That means they also have the most to lose the longer these efforts are delayed. What is at stake are the gains society has made to date to make essential products and services like telehealth and remote learning more accessible and affordable. Simply put, the future of 5G is one that is defined by social and economic empowerment.
We need the right policies to support rapid development, deployment, and expansion of 5G in America, which is precisely why we should not hand the reins over to the U.S. government. Let’s stay the course and continue fostering a competitive, market-driven approach to developing America’s 5G networks so all our communities can begin to enjoy the benefits that winning the global race to 5G will provide.