Next Century Cities (NCC) works to show the many ways in which reliable, affordable, and high-speed broadband has become a cornerstone of the economy, education, healthcare, and public safety. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase reliance on broadband while regulated legacy telephone networks are being phased out. As more communities are forced to grapple with network infrastructure damaged by flood, fire, and other extreme weather events, resiliency planning is key to ensuring that Americans can stay connected. 

On October 27, 2020, Public Knowledge hosted a discussion on the need for resilient broadband networks and the current state of regulations around broadband network reliability. NCC’s Executive Director, Francella Ochillo joined Regina Costa, Telecommunications Policy Director, TURN; Travis Litman, Chief of Staff to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel; Svetlana Matt, Legislative Director, Office of Rep. Jerry McNerny; Tom Power, SVP and General Counsel, CTIA on a panel moderated by Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge.

Francella reiterated sentiments from local officials in areas engulfed by wildfires and floods. According to community leaders, network resiliency cannot be an afterthought, it should be baked into network planning. Local governments are largely responsible for managing the emergency response when networks fail. Network providers can support local efforts by sharing information on back-up power sources, maintenance plans, and redundancy measures. Sharing those strategies with state and local officials should be a condition of public funding. 

Additionally, resiliency planning is a community wide endeavor. Just as local governments must collaborate with providers, residents and businesses should have access to clear instruction on where to go for internet access, charging stations, emergency information, etc. in the event of widespread network failures. 

Watch the webinar here.