Blog Post

Next Century Cities Convenes Chattanooga Field Hearing on Broadband and Community Choice

For Immediate Release
November 18, 2014
Contact: Deb Socia
617-251-8358
deb@nextcenturycities.org

Next Century Cities Convenes Chattanooga Field Hearing on Broadband and Community Choice

City Officials, Private Sector, and Local Stakeholders Testify to the Importance of Next-Generation Internet to Communities

Chattanooga, Tenn. (November 18, 2014) – Today Next Century Cities and the Southeast Tennessee Development District convened a field hearing, “Envisioning the Gigabit Future,” on the importance of next-generation Internet to community outcomes and the need for unfettered community choice. The hearing featured compelling testimony from stakeholders in Chattanooga and cities around the country on how and why this infrastructure is essential to supporting communities that thrive and prosper.

The event was co-hosted by Next Century Cities, a bipartisan, city-to-city initiative dedicated to ensuring the availability of next-generation broadband Internet for all communities. With over 40 member cities, Next Century Cities works with cities, including Chattanooga, that are grappling with the opportunities and obstacles associated with next-generation broadband.

“Next Century Cities is working across the country to elevate the voices of those who want to spark innovation and strengthen their communities through next-generation Internet,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “Our field hearing allowed those voices – from mayors to community stakeholders to renowned business leaders – to be heard today in support of broadband self-determination.”

“Chattanooga is home to some of the country’s most exciting start-ups and a proving ground for how technology can better serve citizens and communities,” said Beth Jones, Executive Director, Southeast Tennessee Development District. “Now we want to see this exciting infrastructure expand across the region.”

The hearing took place in downtown Chattanooga, one of America’s first – and leading – truly “gigabit” communities where high speed Internet investment has yielded real benefits for business, community members, local libraries, and schools. Yet Tennessee is one of approximately twenty states that restrict community broadband choice, prompting Chattanooga and Wilson, North Carolina (another such state), to petition the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year to remove these restrictions so that Chattanooga and Wilson can expand their highly successful networks.

“We are proud to host this important hearing and thank Next Century Cities and the Southeast Tennessee Development District for convening a group of national experts on technology,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. “As home to the fastest, cheapest, and most pervasive internet in the Western Hemisphere, Chattanooga is the perfect city to envision the Gigabit Future. We look forward to collaborating with others cities and organizations to ensure more citizens have access to next-generation broadband and opportunity in the innovation economy.”

“In my Senate District, I represent 7 rural counties. If these communities have any glimmer of hope when competing for new capital investment and jobs in the 21st Century economy, they must have access to the interstate system of the 21st Century which is High Quality Broadband known as the Gigabit,” said Tennessee State Senator Janice Bowling (16 District). “One of my most important responsibilities includes making sure that my communities are able to create the infrastructure in which agriculture, business, education, medical accessibility, real estate development and industry can grow and succeed.”

Speakers and panelists who presented testimony on the importance of gigabit and next-generation broadband to improve America’s communities included Mayor Andy Berke, Chattanooga, TN; Senator Janice Bowling, Tennessee State Senate (16th District); Mayor Gary Davis, Bradley County, TN; Jonathan Taplin, Director, Annenberg Innovation Lab, University of Southern California; and Tony Perez, Director of the Seattle Office of Cable Communications and President of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.

Next Century Cities is a city-to-city initiative founded to support 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. As innovative municipalities across the country recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit level Internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, and connect residents to new opportunities, Next Century Cities will celebrate these successes, demonstrate their value, and help other cities to realize the full power of truly high-speed, affordable, and accessible broadband. For more information,

visit www.nextcenturycities.org.

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