Senator: ‘We can’t consider the race to 5G won until we all cross the finish line.’
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema pressed industry leaders for answers in the Senate CommerceCommittee hearing on closing the digital divide for rural Arizonans and expanding the use of 5G technology. Sinema also highlighted Arizona’s leadership in technological advancements, and underscored the need to invest further in next-generation communications technology.
A community of Pinal County seniors recently wrote Sinema about how their area lacks consistent cell service, preventing those seniors from calling 911 in the event of an emergency. Sinema shared their story at the hearing and called for further action to close the digital divide.
“Sunscape’s story should serve as a reminder that as we discuss the benefits of moving from 4G to 5G in the cities, there are communities all across my state and our country that still don’t have reliable 3G,” said Sinema. “In the digital age, these disparities in service are fundamentally disparities of opportunity. Rural communities must be a bigger part of the connectivity conversation. We can’t consider the race to 5G won until we all cross the finish line.”
In 2017, Arizona passed legislation making it easier for 5G operators to install small cell equipment in Arizona. While Arizona’s major cities develop, test, and deploy future technologies that will thrive with 5G, Sinema wants to make sure Arizona’s rural communities aren’t forgotten and are afforded the same opportunities to stay connected and utilize new technology.
The Sunscape RV Resort is a community of residents age 55 and older located in Pinal County, Arizona. Depending on the time of year, between 850 and 1,000 residents live at Sunscape. No matter what cell provider they choose, the area has lacked reliable cell phone service for 15 years.
Sinema’s staff recently visited Sunscape and heard from residents and management directly about the connectivity challenges they face. Sinema raised the issue in the hearing as part of her efforts to ensure that every Arizonan can stay connected.