In a speech yesterday in Cedar Falls, Iowa – where the local utility has developed a top-notch gigabit network – President Obama laid out his agenda to help communities gain access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband Internet. The speech previewed policy proposals to be unveiled in the President’s State of the Union address next week. The remarks also made reference to Next Century Cities and our growing network of communities!
In his remarks, the President praised Cedar Falls as Iowa’s first ‘Gigabit City,’ with Internet connection speeds among the best in the world. Yet for too many Americans, these speeds remain out of reach – some 45 million Americans cannot purchase next-generation broadband service. The President agrees with Next Century Cities that the stakes of next-generation broadband access are high, observing that, “This is about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in a global economy.”
The President also addressed the barriers that too often prevent communities from developing the networks they need. In 19 states, legislation inhibits the development of next-generation broadband networks. While discussing these laws, President Obama firmly 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.”
In addition to expressing his support for local choice, President Obama also laid out proposals to assist communities in the development of broadband networks. Key components include:
- A new initiative, called Broadband USA, which will offer support to communities through technical assistance, regional workshops, and resources to better equip policymakers in developing a successful network;
- A White House Community Broadband Summit, in June 2015, of mayors and county leaders committed to broadband solutions and economic revitalization
- New grant and loan opportunities for rural providers, through the Department of Agriculture’s Community Connect program, to encourage broadband deployment to underserved rural areas; and
- A new Broadband Opportunity Council of over a dozen agencies committed to better broadband deployment and removing unnecessary regulatory barriers
You can learn more about the President’s plan here, or by watching his remarks below.