This week, Next Century Cities’ Senior Program Manager Cat Blake participated in a 5G expert panel workshop organized by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The two day workshop, which included participation from academics, technologists, analysts, and consumer advocates, explored current issues related to the deployment of 5G networks in the United States, and will inform a GAO report to several congressional subcommittees on the topic.

The discussion covered a wide range of issues, including technology standardization, infrastructure challenges, the economics of deployment, spectrum licensing, access and affordability, and the effects of relevant laws and policies at all levels of government. 

Cat expressed concerns that 5G networks will only sharpen the existing digital divide, as the next generation of wireless connectivity is rolled out only in the dense, wealthy urban cores that can support the economics of deployment. She also spoke about the importance of empowering – not preempting – local governments and the critical role they play in ensuring equitable deployments in the public interest.