This morning, Next Century Cities submitted a public letter to the Federal Communications Commission in support of the principle of local choice. The letter was signed by elected officials from 38 communities across the country.
The letter comes as the FCC considers petitions from two NCC members – Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC. Filed in the summer of 2014, these petitions seek the removal of state barriers which prohibit the expansion of these two communities’ successful broadband networks to nearby towns and cities. These state laws, and similar laws in 17 other states across the country, impinge on local autonomy by restricting the ability of communities to consider certain options when it comes to providing fast, affordable, and reliable broadband to their residents. In remarks outlining his broadband plan, President Obama stated that “all of us — including the FCC, which is responsible for regulating this area — should do everything we can to push back on those old laws.”
We agree with President Obama’s statement, which is why Next Century Cities is committed to the principle of local choice as key to successful broadband Internet projects, regardless of what model a community may choose. As the letter observes,
“Our communities – and all members of Next Century Cities – have taken divergent approaches to bringing broadband Internet to our residents, from municipal networks to partnerships with private providers, including major incumbents. Some of us have made great progress; others of us are still early on the path. What has made possible this diversity of approaches and, in many cases, successes, has been the ability for our communities to make choices that suited our individual needs and circumstances.”
By signing the public letter to the FCC, these mayors and elected officials are urging federal policymakers to respect the importance of local choice to successful broadband Internet networks. We hope these elected officials will encourage federal officials to “support the realization of [the potential of broadband Internet] in our communities and in towns and cities across the country, by empowering every community to meet the needs of their residents.”