NCC Elevates Local Voices During Anchornets Pole Attachment Panel “On Opposite Poles: Finding Common Ground”

Next Century Cities member municipalities have been at the forefront of innovative local policy around pole attachments. Cities like Louisville, Kentucky and San Antonio, Texas were some of the first in the country to implement One Touch Make Ready ordinances, which prepare local infrastructure for broadband deployment while minimizing the environmental and safety impacts of construction projects.

At the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition’s annual conference in Arlington, Virginia, on October 13, 2022, Ovidiu Viorica, Broadband & Technology Program Manager for the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority, moderated a panel of experts including Bob Stovall, Vice President of Infrastructure Strategy & Research for Merit Network; Mark Wagner, CEO of ThinkBig Networks; Sheryl Riggs, President & CEO of the Utilities Technology Council; and Corian Zacher, Senior Policy Counsel at NCC. Corian discussed the important role that local autonomy plays in ensuring that pole attachment and replacement policies encourage broadband deployment while also preserving public safety and health. 

Local leaders across the US are facing numerous policy challenges while experiencing staffing shortages. These factors make it imperative that state and federal policy processes incorporate insights from local officials who are committed to elevating community needs and are accountable to their residents. Indiana’s Broadband Ready Communities Program is one example of a state policy that encourages broadband deployment through direct collaboration with local leadership. As of August 2022, 70 Indiana communities are certified as Broadband Ready and 61 have a Broadband Task Force.

At the federal level, the need for local input persists. As detailed in an October 2022 report, Resounding Silence: The Need for Local Insights in Federal Policymaking, Ryan Johnston explains that even in proceedings that directly impact local infrastructure, municipal leaders that invested time and resources into filing comments did not see their concerns fully resolved. 

When developing state and federal policies that directly impact local infrastructure, the elected and appointed leaders who carry out those processes on the ground are uniquely positioned to outline safe, effective, and equitable broadband policy. 

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