According to a new policy brief from Local Progress, the telecommunications industry has used misleading messaging to push cities to deploy 5G networks, resulting in unfair deals that "drain public coffers, ignore worker and public safety, and do nothing to bridge the digital divide."
Twenty-one million Americans today lack access to broadband infrastructure, with communities of color representing a significant portion of those unserved. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of connectivity is a significant barrier for millions of children learning remotely and adults working from home.
The brief, "Next Generation Wireless Networks That Work for All of Us," aligns with Fair 5G.org, a CWA project aimed at promoting digital equity, workers' rights, and corporate accountability in next generation networks. It notes that multiple levels of subcontracting by telecom companies means that local governments often do not know who is working in public rights-of-way, and that a lack of accountability can create serious safety risks.
The brief suggests actions cities and counties can take to promote safety when infrastructure is installed in the right-of-way, including safety reporting requirements, compliance with existing labor laws, and requiring that providers report to the city the identities of each entity performing work in the public right-of-way, including when the entity is a subcontractor.