It’s an exciting time for Latino entrepreneurs. In recent years, Latinos have been starting businesses at high rates, most Latino-owned businesses have recovered from the pandemic, and a healthy percentage of Latino businesses are tech-focused, providing a significant source of economic empowerment to our communities. To sustain this success, it’s important to think about the tools we need to arm Latino entrepreneurs so their businesses can continue to expand and flourish—and strong mobile broadband networks are key.
These networks connect entrepreneurs to their customers, and they support cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and more. And today, 1 out of 4 Latino adults in the U.S. solely use their smartphones to get online — making it clear that strong wireless networks are an important factor in the cycle of economic empowerment.
Wireless networks run on licensed spectrum, which is used to carry our calls, texts, and internet traffic back and forth. We measure the amount of available spectrum in “megahertz,” and there is a limited amount that is designated for wireless use.
To support robust mobile broadband networks—and particularly when we’re talking about the latest generation, 5G—two new reports have found that the U.S. needs more licensed spectrum.
One new report from The Brattle Group notes that people are using wireless service more than ever, which puts a lot of pressure on networks and the available spectrum they use. The report found that the U.S. needs an additional 400 megahertz of full-power, licensed spectrum in the next five years to meet projected demand for wireless service. As demand continues to grow, wireless networks will need almost 1,500 megahertz by 2032.
A second report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) discusses where the U.S. stands on 5G progress today and what is needed to support innovations, businesses, and jobs that will run on 5G. Among its recommendations, the report suggests the U.S. create a plan, or “spectrum pipeline,” to make more spectrum available so we can harness the opportunities and innovations that 5G makes available.
This is important because the U.S. is already doing well when it comes to tech-focused business, including 5G-powered technologies. A significant portion of these businesses are Latino-owned, outpacing national averages. The 2021 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report (SOLE), by the Latino Business Action Network (LBAN) and the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI), found that 19 percent of Latino-owned businesses develop and/or sell tech or software products compared to 14 percent of white-owned businesses.
The SOLE report also referenced data from the 2019 U.S. Census Annual Business Survey (ABS) and the ABS tech module, which looks at the production of AI, cloud-based and specialized software, robotics, and specialized equipment technologies. It found that 10.6% of Latino-owned businesses are producing these technologies compared to 10.1% of white-owned businesses.
To continue this momentum and provide Latino-owned businesses with the tools and platforms they need to keep innovating in these cutting-edge industries, the experts say that full-power, licensed spectrum is needed.
As noted in Boston Consulting Group’s report, “The primary way for policymakers to fuel the supply side of the 5G ecosystem is by making more licensed full-power spectrum available for mobile use. This will ensure that the U.S. is fully equipped to foster and respond to new 5G use cases.”
TechLatino: Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association is proud of Latino participation in new, forward-looking technologies and industries like AI, machine learning, robotics, and cloud computing—and we want to see that participation grow. To really see what’s possible with those technologies, we need our networks to be strong and capable of taking on a lot more traffic.
The two new reports by Brattle and Boston Consulting Group show that more licensed spectrum will help get us there, and we encourage the TechLatino community to support the need for this additional spectrum.
About Techlatino: The National Association of Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology: www.techlatino.org
Through its network of nearly 15 affiliated community-based councils, association and partnerships with non-profit organizations, LISTA advocates on behalf of the millions of Latinos in 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, South America and Spain. To achieve its mission, LISTA conducts workshops and seminars, national business series, research, policy analysis, and technology awareness programs in order to provide a Latino perspective in many key areas in technology — development of the 21st century workforce, Coding, health information technology, STEAM education, employment/economic status, business development and broadband . In addition, it provides workshops and training to technology professionals and students in health it, big data and other technology opportunities for individuals small businesses and families. Helping Close the digital divide and giving opportunity to all.