US operators urged to avoid 5G digital divide - Mobile World Live

US operators urged to avoid 5G digital divide

10 JAN 2019

CES 2019, LAS VEGAS: A Samsung Electronics America executive defended US operators’ 5G deployment strategies as panellists in a session on the technology warned of a pending digital divide.

Alok Shah, VP of Marketing and Business Development for Samsung Electronics America (pictured, second from right), explained US operators’ are proceeding with limited launches because it is not in their best interests “to target blanket coverage immediately.”

“As an operator they have to weigh the spectrum assets they have in place, the use cases they’re trying to support, where those use cases are needed and then select the right technology assets,” he told Mobile World Live (MWL).

However, fellow panellist Sherrell Dorsey, founder of community development consultancy Build the Good (pictured, centre), expressed concerns current 5G rollout strategies risk creating a technological divide.

She urged operators to engage with communities in markets where 5G deployments are planned or underway to gain better insight into how their rollout strategies may impact citizens. Dorsey also argued that operators need to be more transparent about how they choose which neighbourhoods to launch 5G, noting this has been a weak point so far.

Questions about how deployments might “create or increase digital disparity between certain neighbourhoods” have been left unanswered, she told MWL.

Dorsey urged both operators and local leaders to hold those discussions now, adding “getting ahead of the technology” and taking lessons from initial launches will be “super important” so communities aren’t left trying to retroactively solve issues related to inclusivity and equity.

Shah believes that, ultimately, US operators will deliver “very broad 5G coverage”, but noted in the early days “they’re being very smart about the way they take their budget and apply it.”

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana joins Mobile World Live as its new US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana comes to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and...

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