US Government Accountability Office: Experts Warn That 5G Deployment Would Likely Widen the Digital Divide

June 2020 Report: “FCC Lacks Comprehensive Strategic Planning to Guide Spectrum Policy for 5G Deployment”

“The experts GAO convened also stated that 5G deployment would likely exacerbate disparities in access to telecommunications services, known as the “digital divide.” Specifically, experts as well as stakeholders GAO interviewed said that 5G using high-band spectrum—which allows for high data capacity—is likely to be first deployed in areas already equipped with much of the necessary infrastructure.”

“Experts said the areas with existing infrastructure are generally urban, densely populated, high-income areas as opposed to rural or low-income areas. Further, within urban settings, experts said that high-band 5G networks are more likely to be deployed in commercially viable areas, including those parts of a city that already are equipped with fiber and power and, presumably, already benefit from the most advanced mobile broadband services available.”

“FCC has taken steps to address the digital divide, including a recent announcement to make up to $9 billion in funding available to carriers to deploy 5G in rural areas of the United States. However, FCC has not developed specific and measurable performance goals with related strategies and measures to assess how well its actions are mitigating the added effects 5G deployment will have on the digital divide.”

Pg 14 “Within urban settings, experts said that high-band 5G networks are more likely to be deployed in commercially viable areas, including those parts of a city that already are equipped with fiber and power and, presumably, already benefit from the most advanced mobile broadband services available. For example, an expert representing the wireless industry stated that only about 10 percent of the District of Columbia would receive 5G services using high- band spectrum, as it would be cost-prohibitive for the carriers to install 5G using this spectrum beyond that 10 percent of the city.”

“Experts told us that individuals without access to 5G networks will not be able to take advantage of the use cases that 5G promises, including the high-speed connections offered by enhanced mobile broadband. Experts stated that this situation will greatly affect, among other things, the economic and educational opportunities that 5G promises to make possible.”

Why GAO Did This Study: “GAO was asked to review 5G deployment challenges. This report examines challenges and the federal government’s efforts related to 5G deployment with regard to managing spectrum for 5G and closing the digital divide, among other things. GAO, with assistance from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, convened a meeting of 17 experts from academia, industry, and consumer groups; reviewed relevant statutes, literature, and FCC documentation; and interviewed FCC and other relevant federal officials, along with stakeholders that include various localities, wireless carriers, and industry associations.”

Read it at https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-20-468.pdf

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *