Yesterday, Next Century Cities co-hosted Digital New England: A Summit for Regional Broadband Leaders in Portland, Maine. The summit, co-hosted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, featured national, state, and local policymakers, as well as leaders in the nonprofit and private sectors, who discussed real-world broadband successes in New England and a regional approach to building critical 21st century broadband infrastructure.
The summit kicked off with a keynote conversation with U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) and R. David Edelman, Special Assistant to President Obama for Economic and Technology Policy, who discussed the promises of broadband next-generation Internet access in the Northeast and across the country, moderated by Harvard Law School Professor Susan Crawford. The full-day event, which had over 250 attendees, also featured panel discussions with influential broadband leaders and a keynote address by NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling.
“In communities across New England, residents in Next Century Cities are starting to experience firsthand the benefits of high-quality broadband Internet access,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “By convening hundreds of broadband leaders from across the region and country at today’s Digital New England summit, we hope to drive cities and towns throughout the Northeast to achieve their broadband goals, leading to thriving economies, engaged residents, and improved health care and education systems.”
“High-speed broadband is a gateway to economic and educational opportunity in the 21st century,” Senator King said. “But right now in Maine, there are too many people who are denied those opportunities simply because they don’t have adequate Internet access. Fortunately, we have the power to change that. With the collaborative work of local leaders, the private sector, and all levels of government, we can expand broadband infrastructure and open new doors of opportunity to those who didn’t have it before, and in the process, we can improve the economic prospects for our state and put Maine on a path to prosperity.”
Other discussions at the regional event included a panel of local government and private-sector leaders to discuss how communities throughout New England could work cooperatively to ensure access to broadband Internet. Another panel, with Maine State Representative Norm Higgins, focused on the real-world impacts of high-quality broadband access. The day-long event concluded with a panel of federal government officials who shared outcomes from the Broadband Opportunity Council, which was created by President Obama to increase broadband investment and reducing barriers to broadband deployment and adoption throughout the country.
The regional summit was sponsored by Tilson, Firstlight, GWI, NextGen Telecom Services Group, Inc., Maine Fiber Company, Axiom Technologies, and Frontier Communications. Video of the event will be posted in the near future.