Montgomery County needs affordable broadband, not 5G cell towers, to bridge the digital divide published on July 10th fails to acknowledge the role mobile networks play in enabling more equitable access to connectivity.
Traditionally undeserved communities are more likely to rely on a smartphone to get online, making mobile networks the key to connectivity. In conjunction with access to devices and digital literacy training, mobile connectivity translates to better access. In fact, Brookings reports that “5G represents increased economic opportunity through improved access to social services, such as health care, education, transportation, energy, employment, and even public safety for communities of color,” and that, “cities run the risk of foreclosing on the opportunities presented by 5G networks through delayed and stalled small-cell rollouts.”
If Montgomery County leaders are serious about addressing the digital divide, keeping residents safe and setting businesses up for success, it is well past time to think bigger than simply making internet subscriptions more affordable. We need to enable small cells, which are key to the deployment of robust cell networks and 5G, in residential areas.