NCC signed onto a letter supporting Idaho’s Senate Bill 1149, that also encourages the state legislature to go a step further by clearing the way for municipal solutions of all sorts to address connectivity problems that have persisted for decades. While providing broadband Internet service directly to residents may not suit every community, all local and county governments should be allowed to choose the model that best addresses their needs.
Communities from across the country have found that municipal fiber solutions can produce a wealth of benefits, including lower prices and higher speeds. Precluding some communities from providing broadband while allowing others to do so only introduces confusion about which entities may provide broadband. In effect, it also means that some cities and counties covered by the legislation may not have the tools to reach residents in desperate need of high-quality, affordable broadband Internet access.
In addition to legal authority to connect residents with broadband, communities need resources to build out their Internet infrastructure just as private providers do. Last year, NCC sent two letters to the Idaho Department of Commerce emphasizing the importance of including municipally supported open access middle mile networks in the pool of eligible recipients of CARES Act funding, increasing the benchmark speed from 25 Megabits Per Second (Mbps) and 3 Mbps upload, and allowing funding to go to communities that have greater than 50% connectivity and to be used for network upgrades.
Read the Idaho letter here.