Next-generation broadband is no longer an amenity for communities. It’s an absolute requirement for businesses to operate and stay competitive in our shrinking global marketplace. Yet, it’s not as commonplace as you may think. In fact, many communities are struggling to put the infrastructure in place like what we have in Auburn to deliver next-generation broadband services.
The City of Auburn hopes to help change that through our involvement with Next Century Cities. Next Century Cities supports communities and their elected leaders, including mayors and other officials, as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable and reliable Internet. This nationwide movement has brought Auburn together with 30 other cities—including Boston, Kansas City, Palo Alto and many more—that are on the leading edge of next-generation broadband fiber networks. I’ll be joining leaders from other Next Century Cities tomorrow, October 20, in Santa Monica, for the inaugural kickoff of this city-to-city initiative. Collectively, we hope to elevate the importance of these next generation broadband infrastructures and what they mean in individual communities and to our country as a whole.
From our experience constructing and deploying Auburn’s fiber optic network, we recognize there’s not a single path for developing such an infrastructure. Even among the 31 founding Next Century Cities, there are many different approaches. We believe our collective learning and cooperation can help other cities work to develop and leverage next-generation infrastructure.
I’m grateful for the leaders Auburn had before me. They had the foresight to see the value of a fiber network. In 1985, the City of Auburn began using fiber optics for high-speed communications for electric utility relay and control. A little over a decade later, the Municipal Area Broadband Network was developed to connect nearly 30 government facilities. All of this laid the foundation for Auburn Essential Services, which today providers phone, Internet, data and television for businesses and residents throughout Auburn.
Being asked to join Next Century Cities as a founding member is recognition of these efforts that began so long ago. It validates the work and investment Auburn has made in our infrastructure. Even as a small community, we’re on par with some larger cities—that’s exciting for our community partners, subscribers and businesses to see.
We believe that we’ll also benefit from our involvement in Next Century Cities. As we build relationships with other communities, we’ll hear what others have done—and not done—in order to be successful in this area. Our fiber optic network has evolved into a true community asset today. It’s helped retain businesses as well as attract and recruit others. We want to continue to be a conduit of progress and believe Next Century Cities will be instrumental in helping us achieve that.