Next Century Cities Highlights the Importance of Promoting Local Leadership In Universal Broadband Strategies

Image by Dog Daze Photography: Brandy Reitter describes Colorado’s State Broadband Office’s commitment to collaboration with local leaders.

Next Century Cities has been a long-time ideation partner with local and state officials working to improve broadband throughout Colorado. Our member municipalities include Centennial, Cortex, Firestone, Breckenridge, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Montrose, Mountain Village, Larimer County, and Longmont. 

Silicon Flatirons is the University of Colorado’s Law School flagship technology policy conference. Every year, whether in person or online, it attracts as many policy experts as it does students. A range of speakers from academia, government, civil society, and industry gather in the City of Boulder to discuss issues ranging from broadband deployment to digital inequality to misinformation online. Importantly, the 2023 agenda showcased various ways in which broadband has become the cornerstone of nearly every aspect of digital society. 

NCC’s Executive Director, Francella Ochillo, spoke on the February 6th panel discussion called “The Aches And Pains Of Broadband Deployment And Adoption.” Other panelists included: 

  • Gabrielle Daley (moderator), Director of the Schaden Experiential Learning Program, University of Colorado Law School
  • Kathryn de Wit, Project Director, Broadband Access Initiative, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Justin Faulb, Panelist, Chief of Staff and Wireline Advisor to Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, Federal Communications Commission
  • Nirali Patel, Senior Vice President, Policy & Advocacy, USTelecom – The Broadband Association
  • Brandy Reitter, Executive Director, Colorado Broadband Office, Governor’s Office of Information Technology

Panelists shared different perspectives on digital equity and achieving universal broadband availability and adoption in the US. Ochillo emphasized the importance of addressing barriers to adoption – affordability, access to devices, digital skills training, language barriers, etc. – with the same sense of urgency and resources as broadband deployment. Acknowledging that the digital divide has been decades in the making, she also encouraged the audience to center community-based partners to help ensure that local, state, and federal broadband programs fulfill their promises. 

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