As 5G preparations are being made in Dayton, OH, concerns have been raised that the expansion is not keeping pace in predominantly Black neighborhoods, reports the Dayton Daily News. While critics within the city’s administration point out AT&T activity west of the river, an area with a larger Black population, they say Verizon installations are noticeably absent.
Chris Serico, speaking on behalf of Verizon, said: “We have worked over a significant period of time with each city to develop and engineer the best possible network given each local community’s need.” David Escobar, an engineer with the city of Dayton, explained the development is part of a larger plan. “They like to do the urban dense areas first,” he said, “And then they spider-web out from there.”
However, the absence of activity in certain quarters has some crying foul. “Corporations will put nice commercials on TV, but when the rubber hits the road around equity, they are not putting the infrastructure where the African American community lives,” said Mayor Nan Whaley. “And so therefore we have to call them out on it. We cannot be silent about that. I think we do have the ability to shame for equity in our community,” she added.
Responding to accusations that Verizon focused on small cell delivery in the downtown area of Dayton, Serico said, “Our ongoing network investment is critical to providing reliable connectivity for our subscribers – especially important during this time when more people are working or learning from home,” reported the Dayton Daily News.
Serico added: “Small cells in Dayton strengthen our coverage and capacity, resulting in faster speeds and more reliable connections. We understand the importance of connections in today’s world. And we will continue to support programs that knock down the barriers to universal, affordable broadband.”
AT&T responded to the controversy with a statement noting, “Our investment decisions are based on the coverage and capacity needs of our network and demand for our services. We’ve invested more than $100 million in our Dayton wireless and wired networks from 2017-2019. These investments boost reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for residents and businesses. They also improve critical services that support public safety and first responders. Small cells are used to ease network congestion in high traffic areas.”
“We have been working on this issue for years and obviously have gotten nowhere,” said Dayton City Manager, Shelly Dickstein, on the town’s uneven broadband outreach.
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