Yesterday, Next Century Cities and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) hosted a Congressional briefing for members of the United States House of Representatives about the importance of local voices in broadband decision-making.
The briefing featured a panel of local officials: Wade Troxell, Mayor, Fort Collins, Colorado; Robert Wack, City Council President, Westminster, Maryland; Jeremy Pietzold, City Council President & Sandynet Chair, Sandy, Oregon; Greg Murphy, Supervisor Chair, Faxon Township & RS Fiber Joint Powers Board Chair, Minnesota; and Patrick Mulhearn, Policy Analyst, Santa Cruz County, California. The panel was moderated by Next Century Cities Executive Director Deb Socia.
The panelists represented a diverse array of creative local solutions, and each spoke to the transformative power of broadband in their community.
Mayor Troxell explained that “the whole premise of fiber in Fort Collins is our economic future.” Jeremy Pietzold added that “the quality of life for our residents was the most important thing for us,” and spoke about the benefits of telecommuting, smart transportation, and the boost that broadband gave to the real estate market in Sandy. Robert Wack told the crowd about Westminster’s new economic development nonprofit, MAGIC, which works to leverage the city’s fiber connection for workforce development and technology innovation.
Stories from each community emphasized the importance of allowing local governments to come up with their own connectivity solutions. Patrick Mulhearn explained that when Santa Cruz County wasn’t getting satisfactory service from incumbent providers, the county directly communicated with providers to adjust their policies in order to spur fiber deployment. Despite their efforts, he said, nothing changed.
“There was nobody knocking on our door to bring service to our community,” said Greg Murphy of rural Minnesota. “So we got 27 entities of local governments and four counties to come together to fund [RS Fiber] to get off the ground.”