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The National Spectrum Strategy for 5G has been everywhere in the news. As Latinos are core wireless-centric communities, TechLatino has taken notice. CNN describes “[l]ightning fast wireless speeds [that] could lead to more innovations across a variety of fields, and boost local economies.” We understand that our communities are part of and support the US global race to 5G. We have supported great strides in setting progressive wireless infrastructure policies in motion with small cells being built to further connect communities at a much improved pace. New information shows that there is still work to be done, as we are lacking access to critical airwaves needed to fully realize 5G’s potential.

TechLatino has written a lot on the need for more spectrum and the significant support for these airwave licenses by a wide swath of Latino policymakers from across the country. From these news sources we know that the country currently lacks availability of a key ingredient for 5G: mid-band spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allocated licenses for the low and high bands for deployment in US communities to the point where the United States ranks in first place in its access to these frequencies. Mid-band is what other countries are using globally as a core feature of their 5G approaches. The US has not dedicated any mid-band frequencies exclusively for 5G communications.

As we noted in our previous article, mid-band airwaves are critical because they offer a combination of both bandwidth and distance. But what does this mean in real-life terms? A recent report by the Brookings Institution describes in much detail how exactly Latino communities will advance in a 5G world. 5G will enable the “Internet of Things” or IoT, connecting physical things to other physical things wirelessly. This is because 5G networks will offer “high reliability, strong security, widespread availability,” and little to no lag time.

As we at TechLatino know well, Latino communities from areas rural to urban have faced longstanding barriers to services in the non-digital world. These disparities would be improved by the IoT solutions offered by 5G connectivity. The Brookings report outlines these into the categories of healthcare, education, transportation, and energy. First, rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma disproportionately affect Latino communities according to the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. Wirelessly-connected inhalers would allow relevant data and records to be securely transmitted to healthcare providers, improving treatment of Latino asthma sufferers, for example.

Another example highlighted by the Brookings report is that Latinos face continual educational gaps, which would be aided by more tailored IoT-assisted learning environments offered. 5G would allow for greater precision for “pace and style of learning, and capturing more data about the factors that boost their performance with every lesson.”

In the transportation context, Latinos are among the most vulnerable to pedestrian traffic deaths and air pollution from car traffic. 5G can provide connectivity for autonomous vehicles and the report reveals that AV sensors would reduce overall accidents as well as improve vehicle coordination that would lead to fewer emissions from cars that would have previously idled in traffic.

Finally, the report shows that Latino households spend three times more in energy-related expenses. IoT solutions improved by 5G like smart grids and smart energy meters would be able to reduce such expenses on our families.

It is our mission to make sure we have the best shot at ensuring Latinos in the United States continue to realize opportunities. These 5G solutions are only a snapshot of the digital wireless solutions that would help solve long-standing issues faced by our community. For this reason, we support policies like the National Spectrum Strategy that ensure the maximum utility of our airwaves so that Latinos can benefit from a 5G connected future.

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.