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US Operators Urged To Avoid 5G Digital Divide

A Samsung Electronics America executive defended US operators’ 5G deployment strategies as panelists in a session on the technology warned of a pending digital divide.

Alok Shah, VP of Marketing and Business Development for Samsung Electronics America, 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.

However, fellow panelist Sherrell Dorsey, founder of community development consultancy Build the Good, 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 neighborhoods to launch 5G, noting this has been a weak point so far.

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

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.”―Mobile World Live

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