On September 12, 2019, Senior Program Manager Cat Blake presented on Fiber and the Future of Mountain Communities, an informational panel hosted by the town of Breckenridge, Colo. Panelists discussed the importance of investing in broadband infrastructure and the future of connectivity in the region.
The discussion began with a question on the value of internet access in a community like Breckenridge, with panelists noting potential job growth and new educational resources. Cat said, “In my opinion, the internet is such a powerful tool because it’s non prescriptive. You can use the internet to do whatever it is you need: whether that’s driving your business, accessing educational resources, or catching up on Big Little Lies, individuals and communities achieve their highest potential and respond to change.”
Panelists agreed that even as technologies continue to evolve, the future will be driven by fiber. “When it comes to broadband infrastructure, fiber is the most future-proof thing that you can get,” Cat explained. “The more that you invest in fiber infrastructure now, the better you’re positioning yourselves for a high capacity and equitable wireless deployment in the future, whatever that may look like.”
Cat referenced other Next Century Cities members, including Lafayette, La. and Gaylord, Minn., to discuss the more indirect benefits of great connectivity: families can stay connected through video calls, home values increase, young people are more willing to return to their hometowns after college, the elderly are more able to age-in-place, and residents are able to become more economically mobile through online resources. “Having good service means that you can up-skill and re-skill on your own schedule, and on your own budget because of the resources that are available online. So whether that is reskilling for a new job, upskilling for a promotion, or starting your own business, there are a lot more opportunities when you have good access.”
“A public network allows a community the control, the predictability, and the freedom to innovate and build on that network that working with a private owner of that infrastructure just doesn’t allow.” Breckenridge’s investment in broadband infrastructure is a great example of how communities can take their future into their own hands.
After the event, Next Century Cities gathered local leaders and advocates for a broadband happy hour.
Reach out to our team if you’re interested in setting up a similar event in your community!