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jamAs previously described by TechLatino, wireless deployment is of particular value to Latino communities, who are outsized users of mobile services when compared to other groups. As the wireless industry continues efforts to enhance networks across the country, a series of reforms have been underway to modernize federal processes to make that easier. Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission has released an order to streamline federal processes governing deployment of small cell antennas and macro towers, while respecting the authority of state and local governments. The Carr Order, in addition to legislation proposed by America’s first Latina Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, provides necessary updates required to deliver next-generation wireless service to communities nationwide.

Commissioner Carr has traveled across many regions of the country and consulted the views of minority communities to show how the Order will enhance deployment by updating federal historic preservation and environmental protection procedures. Specifically, the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”) and the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) contain fee structures now unsuitable for the digital age, applying cost structures and procedural timelines associated with large towers in ways that negatively affect the costs and ability to the deploy small cell antennas. Increasing the costs to roll out the small cells needed over the next three to four years to enhance networks will harm communities that rely on wireless connectivity.

Pew Research data shows that mobile devices are important to Latinos across all income levels, who are less likely to own a computer or have home internet access. Latino smartphone owners are twice as likely to rely on their mobile devices to access the internet for their everyday needs. Access to mobile broadband brings with it many benefits, including employment, educational, and capital access opportunities. At the same time, next-generation wireless is slated to create 3 million new jobs.

The Latino community cannot afford to miss opportunities that this streamlining initiative will offer. Missed opportunities are exactly what will occur if our government leaders fail to pass these changes. The massive amount of funds that would be saved by these NEPA/NHPA streamlining reforms could instead be used to enhance the service that our community depends on. The Carr Order will help ensure that Latino communities across the country are not held back. TechLatino’s mission is to empower Latino communities everywhere, and therefore we support these efforts to ensure wireless network improvements become a reality.

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, 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, 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 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.