Expanding Broadband Access. COVID-19 unceremoniously revealed that municipalities of all sizes continue to struggle with bringing broadband within their reach for each of their residents. Network access is of particular concern for hard-to-reach populations. Accordingly, NCC works with local officials and community leaders to articulate infrastructure needs. Our partnerships help municipalities to remove barriers, access resources, and identify connectivity solutions that meet their community’s needs.
Infusing Local Perspectives Into Federal Policymaking. Without insights from local officials and community leaders, federal broadband deployment strategies will remain deficient. Still, local input is rarely solicited to inform federal broadband deployment and funding strategies. NCC provides opportunities for local officials to share community-level impact and learnings into federal proceedings that involve the Federal Communications Commission, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and U.S. Congress.
For example, local officials shared the need for inclusive grant funding programs that provide communities with options to address unique deployment challenges. The persistent use of inaccurate mapping data continues to exclude communities in need of limited federal funds. And as the nation invests in 5G technologies, the success of 5G networks depends on its proximity to fiber which is absent in many of the communities most impacted by the digital divide. NCC continues to document these local insights and others which are easily overlooked in the federal policymaking process.
Building Bridges Between Local & State Leadership. At the state level, NCC conducts outreach and develops opportunities for local officials to engage with state leadership. At a time when anywhere from approximately 20 to over 100 million people still do not have access to minimum broadband speeds, local governments are battling prohibitions or crippling restrictions on municipal broadband projects in 22 states. Building bridges between local governments and state broadband officers is critical to eliminating unnecessary barriers and, importantly, identifying much-needed resources for possible broadband solutions, including municipal broadband technology. .
Local economies are directly impacted by and local officials ultimately responsible for addressing gaps in connectivity. In many states, municipal governments can only operate within the confines of explicit state laws. This form of state governance can often rule out effective solutions before they are tested for success. However, when local leaders have opportunities to share their insights and community needs with state officials, it facilitates collaboration and pilot-driven experimentation, which is key to expanding broadband initiatives across counties, districts, and states. Those conversations bring the far-reaching impact of the digital divide to life and mobilize interests in improving access.