Today, the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (“NOBEL Women”), led by...
Ensuring that the U.S. has sufficient spectrum is critical to the nation's future. #spectrumofpossibilities
As more and more women and African Americans use wireless as their gateway to the Internet, their appetite for spectrum-intensive services grows. Driven by consumer demand, we face the reality of a rapidly approaching spectrum shortage. Research suggests that identifying, auctioning and deploying new spectrum takes years - 13 years on average.
NOBEL Women believes Government should be urged to release more spectrum that fuels 5G to ensure that women and African Americans continue to receive the full benefits of the Internet. To draw public attention to this urgent issue, we have launched this education campaign to spread the word.
SPECTRUM OF POSSIBILITIESWomen and African American consumers’ mobile phone usage needs and expectations have evolved significantly. Two decades ago, a mobile phone was used only to make and receive phone calls while away from home or work. Today, the ability to access the Internet through a state-of-the-art mobile phone is critically important to our families' futures. Women use mobile devices to access the Internet to enhance family life, improve health outcomes, bolster their family’s education, and pursue economic and entrepreneurial opportunities. Since women are typically at the center of families, they are oftentimes tasked with a broad array of responsibilities that encompass nearly every aspect of daily life, from making financial decisions to caring for children and aging parents. Most of these functions are best performed today with access to the Internet. As more and more women and African Americans use wireless as their gateway to the Internet, their appetite for spectrum-intensive services grows. Driven by consumer demand, we face the reality of a rapidly approaching spectrum shortage. NOBEL Women believes that government agencies and departments should release more spectrum that fuels wireless communications to ensure that women and African Americans continue to receive the full benefits of the Internet. We are serious about this urgent issue and have launched this education campaign in an effort to spread the word.
Senate HearingsThe U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will host a series of hearings on the future of wireless broadband. Below are the first two hearings:
- “Removing Barriers to Wireless Broadband Deployment” This hearing examined barriers, regulatory and otherwise, to the deployment of wireless broadband facilities, infrastructure, and service, October 7, 2015
- “Wireless Broadband and the Future of Spectrum Policy” explored U.S. spectrum policy and how it should be improved to accommodate consumers' growing demands for wireless broadband, July 29, 2015
On the Way to 5GOver the past three decades, rapid advances in wireless technology have been instrumental in transforming the lives of African American women and their families. The promise of newer technology will provide even more benefits. The fifth generation (5G) wireless network is the next phase in wireless connectivity that will empower African American women and improve our quality of life. The US led the world in deploying 4G technology. We want to ensure that the US maintains its competitive advantage in the world by leading the commercial availability of 5G too because that leadership translates into more innovative solutions in the US and more jobs. Experts predict 5G won’t be commercially available until 2020, but policymakers need to act now to adopt policies that will support the building blocks of 5G: spectrum, wireless infrastructure known as “small cell” antennas and fiber networks. 5G will offer higher bandwidths and support speeds as much as 50 times faster than 4G LTE, lower latency that allows for instantaneous connections, more capacity and ultra-high reliability enabling the Internet of things. While experts are still testing the full capabilities of 5G, the possibilities of the type of innovation this next phase of wireless will deliver are exciting:
- Virtual reality as part of an educational curriculum to enhance student learning
- High-resolution interactive video and very low latency, which could enable remote surgery from national or regional physicians for underserved healthcare centers
- Remote monitoring for seniors and at-risk patients to support independent living and provide up to the second assessments
- Access to a global customer base for minority entrepreneurs
- And the unlimited possibilities of next generation of mobility
The mobile difference: 92% of African Americans own a cell phone, and 56% own a smartphoneIn contrast to internet use and broadband adoption, blacks and whites are equally likely to own a cell phone of some kind, and also have identical rates of smartphone ownership. Some 92% of black adults are cell phone owners, and 56% own a smartphone of some kind. Cell phone ownership is much more common than internet use among older African Americans. Just 45% of African Americans ages 65 and older use the internet, but 77% are cell phone owners (most of these seniors own basic cell phones, as only 18% are smartphone owners). Overall, 72% of all African Americans—and 98% of those between the ages of 18 and 29—have either a broadband connection or a smartphone. Source: African Americans and Technology Use: A Demographic Portrait, Pew Research Center
- Increasing spectrum access vital for economic growth, health and civic engagement, October 22, 2015
- Government spectrum needed to address shortfall, The Hill, August 10, 2015
- Wireless Spectrum is a Priority for African Americans, August 6, 2015
Internet use and Broadband adoptionNationally, there is a seven percentage point gap between whites and blacks when it comes to internet use. Internet use is nearly universal among younger adults, the college-educated, and those with relatively high incomes, regardless of race. But older blacks are significantly less likely to go online than their white counterparts—just 45% of African Americans age 65 or older use the internet. Internet use is also notably less common among blacks who have not attended college, compared with whites with a similar level of educational attainment.
The broadband adoption gap between whites and blacks is around twice as big as for internet use in general—12 percentage points. As with internet use, differences between white and black are most concentrated among older adults and those with low levels of educational attainment. Just 30% of African Americans age 65 or older, and 39% of African Americans who have not attended college, are home broadband users. By contrast, broadband adoption is nearly universal among young adults, the college educated, and those in higher-income households, regardless of whether those individuals are black or white.