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What are the advantages and disadvantages of 5G technology in the US? Show more Show less
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Although already introduced by some carriers in some areas of the US, 5G - the successor to 4G, which currently provides connectivity to most mobile devices - could have a nationwide rollout by the end of 2020. The transition from 4G to 5G would transform the digital landscape as we know it today. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of 5G deployment across the United States?

5G deployment is bad Show more Show less

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5G will contribute further to America’s digital divide

Due to its price and installation methods, rural and/or low-income communities will be negatively affected by the implementation of 5G.

The Argument

The distribution of access to information technologies is already incredibly uneven along several lines, including income level, education, race, and location[1]. For those who live in more rural or low-income areas, access to the internet and/or mobile devices is harder to come by. 5G deployment would only exacerbate this disparity - cities and urban areas would continue to advance and develop, while rural communities fall farther and farther behind. According to the FCC, 31% of rural residents do not have a fixed broadband service, as opposed to 2% of urban residents[2]. Billions of extra dollars would have to be spent in order to get these rural areas "caught up" with the rest of the country. Carriers, however, are much more likely to deploy 5G in high-income areas for a quicker return on their investment[2]. 5G utilizes higher frequency waves, as opposed to 4G and 3G, which use lower frequencies that are less easily scattered. Due to the limited range of high frequency waves, hundreds of thousands of smaller antennas and towers would need to be installed[3]. For low-income areas, this may not be affordable. Additionally, it is physically difficult to make 5G work in more remote areas; the network would require hundreds of miles' worth of fiber-optic cables placed underground. This is why it is already a challenge for rural Americans to get mobile LTE broadband, let alone 5G[2].

Counter arguments

There is certainly financial incentive for 5G to be deployed in rural areas - namely, to test out 'precision agriculture'. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been urging carriers to deploy in more rural, agriculturally-based communities for this reason.[2] Additionally, some cities are striking deals with carriers to ensure that lower-income neighborhoods are included in the 5G rollout. For example, Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, allowed carriers to deploy 5G under the condition that they cover the entire city and have a "digital inclusion fund".[2]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/cs181/projects/digital-divide/start.html
  2. https://www.axios.com/5g-digital-divide-19b70d34-4978-44df-a1cb-ae9222d113ef.html
  3. https://justaskthales.com/en/reader-response-whats-the-difference-in-network-coverage-between-3g-4g-5g/

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020 at 07:25 UTC

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