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Webinar: 5G and the Digital Divide

CWA | September 17, 2020

A Deep Dive into 5G Technology, San Diego’s Backroom Deal with Verizon, and the Digital Divide in a Post COVID-19 World

This 1-hour webinar covers the following topics:

  1. A primer on 5G technology and the hype behind the 5G PR machine;
  2. An overview of  the City of San Diego’s backroom 5G deal with Verizon and how it threatens to increase the city’s digital divide;
  3. Recommendations for how the City of San Diego can take positive action to meet the community’s digital equity needs and protect worker safety. 

Featured Speakers:

  • Orlando Gonzalez, Secretary-Treasurer, CWA Local 9509
  • Richard Barrera, Vice President, San Diego Unified School Board
  • Antonio Martinez, Vice President, San Ysidro School Board
  • Earl Lum, Founder, EJL Wireless Research
  • Dr. Derrick Robinson, Senior Research and Policy Analyst, Center on Policy Initiatives
  • Sydney Householder, Strategic Research Associate, CWA 





Connectivity or Corporate Giveaway? New Report Reveals the Shortcomings of San Diego's 5g Partnership with Verizon

CWA | June 25, 2020

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) released a report analyzing the public-private partnership between the City of San Diego and Verizon on Thursday, finding that the partnership was executed as a backroom deal that stands to benefit the company instead of centering the connectivity needs of all San Diegans. 

The report outlines three recommendations to help ensure San Diegans get a fair deal that benefits all residents: 

Assess costs and improve transparency -- The City of San Diego should assess the full budgetary impact of the Verizon deal, perform a cost study and hold a public hearing. The City should get a clear picture of the real cost to taxpayers - from staff time to lost fee revenue - and hold a public hearing to ensure that residents are fully informed and have the opportunity to weigh in. 

Consult with community stakeholders and create digital equity demands -- The City should work with community stakeholders to clarify digital equity needs. Verizon should be open to revising the deal and including needed community benefits that are commensurate with the financial benefit Verizon is receiving. 

Protect public and worker safety -- The City should change permitting procedures so residents know who is working in their streets and strengthen labor protections so that 5G network buildout doesn’t come at the expense of basic safety requirements. The City should modify its permitting procedure to require Verizon and all providers to state what entity will actually perform permitted work.





NYC Approves New Mobile Telecom Agreements, Enhancing Transparency Around Subcontractors

CWA | January 15, 2020

The Communications Workers of America worked with the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications to develop a new set of transparency requirements for the franchise agreements.

Across the United States, cities and local governments have worked with providers on build-out of 5G networks and enhancement of 4G networks. This work includes digging under sidewalks and roads to lay fiber, which requires coordination with gas, water and other utilities.  Unfortunately, many providers build wireless networks using a web of out-of-state, subcontracted labor instead of locally-based direct employees, and often these subcontractors are non-union.

“For our city’s 5G rollout to succeed, we must be able to ensure accountability to protect New York’s residents, visitors, workers, and public infrastructure,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “I am glad that worker safety and subcontractor transparency language has been included in the City’s mobile telecom franchise agreement.”



CWA releases new recommendations for small cell deployment at 2019 Natoa conference

CWA | September 30, 2019

Carriers are making substantial demands of cities and localities in their rush to deploy wireless technology on public infrastructure. While cities certainly want robust access to next generation networks, officials must navigate multiple interests to ensure that deployment is done in a way that serves the public interest by improving digital equity, promoting good jobs, and protecting public assets.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) released recommendations for the deployment of small cell wireless infrastructure at the 2019 conference of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), the nation’s largest gathering of local government telecommunications professionals.

CWA recommends cities take the following into consideration when planning for future networks:

  • Develop a template agreement for access to the right-of-way and use of publicly-owned assets (often referred to as a Master Lease or License Agreement). This approach ensures a level playing field for all carriers and allows for inclusion of contract terms that protect the public interest.
  • Ensure an open public input process, so community members can stay informed, participate and have a voice in network planning, construction, and deployment.
  • Protect public and worker safety by including transparency requirements for subcontractors working in the right-of-way.
  • Incorporate provisions that require companies to comply with existing laws.
  • Include measures that promote digital equity and digital inclusion.
  • Safeguard public resources, including provisions for retaining public ownership of assets and abandonment of equipment.
  • Ensure that cities are protected if federal law changes.

Read the full guide [PDF]


5G Promises Ring Hollow in Sacramento

A new report from CWA exposes the serious shortfalls in the public-private partnership between Verizon and the City of Sacramento. The agreement set the terms for the build-out of Verizon’s next generation 5G wireless network.




Analysts find Verizon’s 5G Network out of reach for most Sacramento residents

Verizon promised ultrafast home internet, but only a very small portion of households have access. A wireless industry expert found that Verizon’s 5G Home network in Sacramento covers fewer than 10% of Sacramento residents. Reporting for Channel 13 CBS Sacramento, George Warren said, “…if you try to sign up for 5G, you’re likely in for a big disappointment.” [Watch video here]