The 2020s are just getting started, and already, the lives most Americans lived prior to January 1st seem like a decade ago. Among many issues surfacing during the pandemic is the digital divide, the separation of people with and without access to the necessary broadband signals to access information, data, video and voice calls, and countless other services of the modern age.
“Since my first day as Chairman of the FCC, my number one priority has been closing the digital divide and bringing the benefits of the Internet age to all Americans,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on the official website, outlining several government initiatives to bring more people into the information age. Responsibility to get the job done swiftly and properly is shared by the government and the private sector. Chris Bondurant, COO of SAC Wireless, says his company is ready to support its customers, the nation’s top wireless and broadband providers.
In January of 2020, the FCC announced the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, earmarking more than $20 billion to bring broadband to underserved rural areas. In 2019, $4.9 billion was pledged to a 10-year Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) program to maintain, improve, and expand affordable rural broadband for 455,334 homes and businesses served by 171 smaller “rate of return” carriers in 39 states and American Samoa, including 44,243 locations on Tribal lands.
“SAC Wireless will continue to work with national carriers to invest in resources that will bring critical emerging technologies to areas that do not have access to it,” Bondurant said. “We have been on the frontlines to bring connectivity to rural America by helping our customers acquire, develop, engineer, construct, and commercialize new sites in remote locations.” By mobilizing staff and resources into rural areas, SAC can be more responsive to the needs of customers while building out a variety of delivery platforms. As 5G buildout continues in most metropolitan markets, 3G and 4G LTE technologies still offer opportunity and higher speed access to underserved markets.
While a majority of U.S. office workers were able to swiftly transition to “work from home” models once stay at home orders were in place, the need for broadband access throughout the nation became apparent. “Whether it is to access telehealth services, work, school, or even interacting with family and loved ones, it is important to ensure that everyone enjoys the same technological benefits,” Bondurant said. “Bridging the digital divide will help improve overall quality of life by providing people access to a higher quality of education, improved economic opportunities, and essential healthcare.”
As some areas strive to access technologies others areas have enjoyed for years, the demands for faster data speeds, streaming television, videoconferencing, online gaming and IOT devices, are just a few of the reasons why everyone who has internet access is looking to 5G. Providers are tasked with balancing the expanding needs of their primary customer base, while providing greater access to all populations. Closing the digital divide ensures the strength of our society as a cohesive, interconnected union, says SAC Wireless.
“5G is a multi-year build and is essential to evolve our society to the next age of digitization and automation,” said Bondurant. “As 5G becomes more widespread, it will offer a viable option to bring faster and affordable broadband connection to all Americans. Policy makers and operators, working together, can extend the benefits of 5G and other available technologies to all underserved areas.”