By Chris Schweitzer, Auburn Essential Services
Last week at Cedar Falls Utilities, President Obama spoke about the increased support for communities committed to affordable, high-speed broadband. The White House recognized Next Century Cities, the bipartisan, city-to-city initiative dedicated to ensuring the availability of next-generation broadband for all communities. The City of Auburn is one of the founding members of Next Century Cities.
President Obama said the White House support is “about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in a global economy. It’s about giving the entrepreneur, the small businessperson on Main Street a chance to compete with the folks out in Silicon Valley, or across the globe. It’s about helping a student access the online courses and employment opportunities that can help her pursue her dreams.”
According to a White House fact sheet, support will focus on five key areas:
- Ending Laws that Harm Broadband Service Competition: The Administration is filing a letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging it to join this effort by addressing barriers inhibiting local communities from responding to the broadband needs of their citizens.
- Expanding the National Movement of Local Leaders for Better Broadband: In June 2015 the White House will host a Community Broadband Summit of mayors and county commissioners—many from Next Century Cities—who are joining this movement for broadband solutions and economic revitalization.
- Launching a New Initiative to Support Community Broadband Projects: The Department of Commerce is launching a new initiative, BroadbandUSA, to promote broadband deployment and adoption.
- Unveiling New Grant and Loan Opportunities for Rural Providers: The Department of Agriculture is accepting applications to its Community Connect broadband grant program and will reopen a revamped broadband loan program, which offers financing to eligible rural carriers that invest in bringing high-speed broadband to unserved and under-served rural areas.
- Removing Regulatory Barriers and Improving Investment Incentives: The President is calling for the Federal Government to remove all unnecessary regulatory and policy barriers to broadband build-out and competition, and is establishing a new Broadband Opportunity Council of over a dozen government agencies with the singular goal of speeding up broadband deployment and promoting adoption for our citizens.
“Next Century Cities exists because cities know they need to be in the driver’s seat if they want to deliver next-generation broadband to residents, businesses, and neighborhoods,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “The President’s announcement shows the administration is listening—and responding. We welcome these commitments, and look forward to supporting any effort to help cities succeed.“