5G to Enable Opportunities for Communities of Color

  • Brookings
WASHINGTON — With peak download speeds as high as 20 Gbps, fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks will enable advanced, specialized tasks like remote precision medicine, connected cars, virtual and augmented reality, and a wide array of internet of things (IoT) applications.

In addition to these capabilities, a new policy paper from Brookings, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC, identifies another important advantage of 5G technology: advancing economic and social opportunities for low-income Americans and communities of color. As Brookings Fellow Nicol Turner Lee writes, “for communities of color that often lack reliable broadband access, 5G represents increased economic opportunity through improved access to social services, such as health care, education, transportation, energy, and employment.”

As Turner-Lee explains, 5G and IoT applications can offer tremendous benefits to communities of color whose members are often on the wrong side of the digital divide—and who are disproportionately likely to rely on mobile devices as their only gateway to the internet. She examines several IoT and 5G-enabled applications that stand to greatly benefit online minority users, particularly in the areas of health care, education, energy, and transportation. For example:

  • Applications in health care, such as ingestible sensors that track and report when medications are taken, aiding in treatment adherence, can help overcome challenges caused by the physical or social isolation of certain patient populations. Given that communities of color are disproportionately affected by a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, they stand to benefit significantly from these innovations.

  • IoT solutions in the classroom—such as personal learning programs and interactive whiteboards—can contribute to more vibrant and robust learning environments. Because these applications require high-bandwidth connections, however, they are often not available in lower-income neighborhoods today. 5G networks can deliver them to more classrooms, benefiting students of color.

  • Autonomous vehicles, utilizing 5G networks, are expected to lower the levels of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, leading to better health outcomes in communities where minorities live. (In 2010, non-white Americans were exposed to concentrations of nitrogen dioxide that were 37 percent higher than whites.)


To ensure that vulnerable communities benefit from the wide range of emerging technologies — and all that they offer — Turner Lee argues that it is essential that 5G networks be nationwide, affordable, and resilient. She concludes her paper by proposing three recommended ways in which the government and private sector can work collaboratively to prioritize nationwide deployment of 5G networks, while broadening their capacity and reach to communities in the most need of high-speed broadband access.

“By providing both ubiquity and some level of digital equity for marginalized groups, robust 5G networks will ensure these populations are not left behind,” Turner Lee concludes.

You can read “Enabling opportunities: 5G, the internet of things, and communities of color” here.

Comments

Read what others have to say, and share your own thoughts with the community.

2000 characters remaining
Advertisement

© 2020 Broadband Properties, LLC

Privacy Policy

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable