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It is clear that mobile phones are an especially critical tool for the Latino community to connect with family, friends, work, school, and more. Nielsen reports that 98% of our communities in the U.S. own a smartphone compared to 93% of the general population. And Pew Research Center found that the number of Latino smartphone-only internet users is nearly double the amount of other groups. This outsized reliance on smartphones means Latinos have an outsized interest in the future of connectivity.

And the truth about that future is that the U.S. needs to prepare our networks to meet the demand that is predicted in the years ahead—a 280% increase in mobile data use between 2021 and 2027, according to Ericsson’s Mobility Report.

How do we prepare? To start, policymakers should release more exclusive-use, licensed spectrum that providers can invest in to build out more coverage and more capacity.

Spectrum are the airwaves that make wireless networks function. Wireless providers bid in auctions to buy that spectrum and deploy cell towers and sites to harness the spectrum and build out their networks. Congress needs to start supporting our wireless future by reauthorizing the FCC to hold these auctions. A fantastic byproduct of these auctions is the funds they raise for the U.S. government to use for potential policy priorities, including closing the digital divide, which can also help Latino communities, including those in more rural areas as well.

And when it comes to how Congress should make that spectrum available for auction, exclusive use licenses with wide channels, at full power levels are essential. While some have suggested a Citizens Broadband Radio Service-style sharing approach going forward, new research suggests it has yet to prove itself.

Instead, the assurance of exclusive use means that wireless network providers can invest fully in the spectrum because they know consumers can use it in the way they need to, when they need to. Wide channels of spectrum are more productive than smaller channels, and this efficiency results in lower costs for consumers. And full power levels boost capacity, using fewer cell sites. This extends the ability of the spectrum to do more and reach more people in a cost effective manner.

As Latinos continue to make widespread use of smartphones and wireless networks, TechLatino sees it as part of our mission to encourage policymakers to make more exclusive use, licensed spectrum available to support our future connectivity needs.

About Techlatino: The National Association of Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology:

Through its network of nearly 17 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.