Fall 2020

5G Expansion and the Digital Divide



For the fall 2020 semester, our POSC 395 Policy Research Internship students researched how to bridge the digital divide in California. This topic is particularly important now during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the increase of remote work and education. The group also researched ways to efficiently and safely implement 5G network coverage across the state. They presented their extensive research and policy suggestions to our partners, California Strategies and Crown Castle.

LaPaula Parker, a sophomore majoring in Politics, Philosophy, and Law, said this about her research experience, “I really enjoyed working on this research this semester. I appreciated my research on the digital divide because it is so pertinent now that our world is becoming more reliant on technology, especially with COVID. I researched the social and ethical impacts concerned with the digital divide. I broke up my research into 1) Who: the demographics that are impacted, 2) What: how it impacts those areas and what is at stake, and 3) Where: comparing Internet access in rural and urban areas.”

Project: 5G Expansion and the Digital Divide

USC Students: Nayeli Camacho, Emily Morris, Tiffany Morris, Anya Moturi, and LaPaula Parker

Research Question: How can Crown Castle rapidly overcome the deployment barriers to building the infrastructure for 5G technology throughout California?

Policy Recommendations:

  • Legislation– Enact uniform legislation for shot clock periods and fees and allow local jurisdictions to submit aesthetics suggestions and time-limited complaints of small cells infrastructure
  • Economics– Targeted, limited statewide policy for cohesive regulations and to incentivize rural rollout, coalition with regional corporations, and coordinate efforts with other operators
  • Environmental– Continued research into the effects of millimeter waves on wildlife and decrease the amount of spectrum to be auctioned and prioritize saving the bands similar to weather forecasting tools
  • Health– Place 5G towers away from schools and implement educational campaigns
  • Socioeconomic– Internet Access Bill of Rights, partnerships between communities and telecommunication providers, and expansion of affordable internet access

Read the group’s full research presentation.

Watch the video presentation on 5G Expansion and the Digital Divide.