Mid-Band Airwaves: Travel Farther and Cover More Communities Through 3.5 GHz”

The core mission of TechLatino is to ensure that the U.S. Latino community has a seat at the table for present and future generations to come. Comparing Latinos to other communities, we use mobile services more than any other communications technology. It is for this reason that we fully support the push to make fifth-generation wireless (5G) a reality for the technology we depend on. The airwaves used to carry these wireless communications are technically known as spectrum.

In our previous post on spectrum, we supported a bill called the AIRWAVES Act because it would create a plan to free up more spectrum for mobile users and create a dividend from spectrum auction proceeds to fund underserved, unserved, and rural communities. According to recent news from the Federal Communications Commission, there will be a vote to release the first-ever set of mid-band airwaves in the United States. This is news seems long overdue because mid-band spectrum combines two benefits that our communities need: coverage and capacity. These are key improvements for our wireless services to embrace as our community expands from urban to rural and everywhere in between.

It appears that the FCC will vote on an order that will ensure long-term spectrum licenses over larger geographical areas. In an op-ed explaining what the FCC’s moves mean, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly described that the mid-band spectrum released in his order is the 3.5 GHz band known as the “Citizens Broadband Radio Service.” The purpose of this order correct some historical wrongs related to this spectrum band. First, the order released indicates that areas will be covered according to county size instead of very small census tract license sizes.

We see these proposed license sizes, including the ability to combine coverage of larger metropolitan areas, as good news. For example, TechLatino’s headquarters are based here in the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area. One only needs to look at this Census map of Atlanta to see how segmented and complicated a census tract-based spectrum deployment would be. For an area where the city portion of Atlanta alone is split between two counties, Fulton and DeKalb, chopping up spectrum even smaller would be a disaster. Additionally, given that the U.S. Census has historically undercounted Latino communities and this trend is projected to be even more severe in next Census, we are thankful that Commissioner O’Rielly chose the option to serve more communities.

Aside from the domestic benefits mentioned above, another critical innovation of Commissioner O’Rielly’s order is that it will release mid-band spectrum that better harmonizes with spectrum internationally. While our communities are based in the United States, many if not all of us have ties to other countries. For example, Spain was among the countries that held mid-band spectrum auctions in the last six months to improve network speeds and relieve congestion. It is important that our mobile services are keyed to be compliant and keep up with international standards. This bodes well for the 5G race, which we have previously stood by as a technological leap forward positively tied to benefits for our community.

TechLatino: The Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association (LISTA) aims to equip Latino communities with the resources needed to thrive in the digital age. We support the FCC’s 3.5 GHz order for its brave first step to explore the mid-band airwaves necessary for 5G. We look forward to watching its successful passage on October 23rd.

 

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

Through its network of 15 affiliated community-based councils, association and partnerships with non-profit organizations, TechLatino/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, to educate, motivate and empower, TechLatino/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, cyber security, health information technology, STEAM education, employment/economic status, business development cell 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.