The digital landscape, innovation, efficiency and security of networks and infrastructure are not just advantageous—they’re essential.
As someone working in California’s health care industry that relies on connectivity – one of the crown jewels of our state, and certainly an enormous economic driver, it’s heartening to see the investment being funneled into expanding and enhancing cellular networks’ coverage and capabilities.
That enhanced connectivity is enabling California companies to develop new products, create jobs and serve a global customer base from right here in the Golden State.
The investment is also driving future generations of wireless, like 5G, that will allow us to build things most people can’t even imagine yet. It wasn’t that long ago that the evolution of 4G sparked the beginnings of a technological shift that propelled California into the spotlight as a global leader in innovation. Now, there are more ads than ever from wireless providers one upping each other on what their 5G networks can do. Our state must be ready, like we were before, to take full advantage of that next major shift.
But the type of proposal put out by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to create new telecommunication service regulations, though well intentioned, does nothing to advance our state’s innovative leadership. In fact, these rules could prevent California from even keeping pace with wireless advancements, which puts everyone at a disadvantage. Tracking outages, which by the way, are typically out of cellular companies’ control, is bureaucracy that is going to drain resources and distract from the big picture: the people of California want the latest and best that technology has to offer—and our economy depends on it.
There are so many other ways the Commission and other California agencies and policymakers can help bring network connectivity to more people than through service quality regulations. Government can play a role in bringing more coverage to more people by encouraging the expansion of networks in rural areas where it may not make business sense for private industry and providing people with lower incomes additional assistance in getting connected. This emphasis on closing the digital divide is so important, both just on a human level, and as someone who is invested in and excited about the innovations that companies are developing for all Californians to benefit from.
Closing the digital divide is not antithetical to encouraging progress, growth, and competition. Historically, robust, secure networks have been a product of the industry’s competitive nature. Encouraging wireless companies to upgrade existing infrastructure and build super-fast, capable networks that can support the tech sector and the needs of consumers should be part of California policymakers’ focus.
When Governor Newsom celebrated California’s rise on the list of the world’s largest economies, he said: “While critics often say California’s best days are behind us, reality proves otherwise – our economic growth and job gains continue to fuel the nation’s economy.” I have to agree that our best days are ahead, as evidenced by the ingenuity and innovation that continues to emerge from my industry and from industries across the state. Why would we mess with what’s working?
I want to see the digital divide closed. I want all Californians to experience strong networks. But more regulations are not going to help. Instead, they are likely to divert resources and investment, and create uncertainty, which will actually limit network capacity from keeping pace with the latest capabilities in wireless. Many depend on having robust networks to build exciting innovations that propel our economy forward and make California a vibrant place to live and work.
Joe Herrera is a health care professional who works with vulnerable populations that need health care and access to connectivity.
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