How to Close the Digital Divide
At a recent White House event that deserved more coverage than it got, Vice President Kamala Harris talked about the digital divide.
“This is not just an intellectual conversation about access to technology,” she said. “It’s about access to education. It’s about access to health care. … This is fundamentally how we create good jobs and economic opportunity. This is how we help our students succeed, our small businesses thrive, and our nation compete in the 21st century.”
At that event, Vice President Harris announced that the administration is making $1 billion available to expand broadband access on tribal lands. That’s just a part of what the Biden-Harris administration has done. The American Rescue Plan, for example, directed more than $7 billion to expand access to students and teachers, and billions more for broadband infrastructure. The infrastructure bills working their way through Congress would do still more.
But that won’t be enough if we are not utilizing every resource at our disposal, including the accelerated deployment of 5G networks, which complement fixed broadband by enhancing mobile connectivity and the unique economic opportunities it creates.
To do that, it’s not just about spending more money. It’s about modernizing outdated rules that are slowing the development of those networks – particularly when it comes to unlocking the 12 GHz spectrum band for rapid deployment in 5G networks.
This one policy change would catapult the U.S. into worldwide 5G leadership, greatly reducing the digital divide, lowering costs, and improving access to education, health care, jobs, and opportunities that everyone deserves.
Whatever the administration does on broadband, opening up the 12 GHz spectrum to expand 5G deployments must be a part of it.