Connections Blog

NLC, NACO & NATOA to FCC Wheeler: We Support Your Efforts to Eliminate Barriers to Municipal Broadband

On Friday, July 3, 2014, the National League of Cities (NLC), the National Association of Counties (NACO) and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) commended FCC Chairman Wheeler’s commitment to local internet choice, and emphasized their support for his efforts to remove barriers to municipal broadband networks:

“We write today to support your efforts to eliminate barriers to municipal broadband networks and ensure that our local communities have options to address their broadband needs.”

Underscoring to Chairman Wheeler that internet choice at the local level has never been more imperative, the Executive Directors describe how cities and counties are intimately involved in the public safety, healthcare, education, infrastructure and employment needs of their diverse citizens on a daily basis, and how having their hand on this local pulse has created “innovative partnerships,” including with private sector companies, to meet these diverse local needs.

“As such, Local governments should have the flexibility to address broadband and internet access in a way that meets the needs of the people they serve….local creativity and local authority is a viable means by which new next-generation broadband infrastructure can emerge.”

The Associations praised Chairman Wheeler for his leadership, and efforts to ensure that no entity is held back from our country’s efforts to build 21st Century broadband infrastructure:

“…our groups stand ready to assist in your efforts as you move forward with eliminating barriers to municipal broadband networks.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Senators and Representatives Call on FCC Chairman to Let Communities Decide Their Own Broadband Future

Citing the need to sustain our country’s global economic competitiveness, U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, Richard Blumenthal, and Cory A. Booker, and U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle, Henry A. Waxman and Anna G. Eshoo  called on FCC Chairman Wheeler in a June 27 letter to “progress” on community broadband by unleashing all options that will build a 21st century broadband infrastructure catalyzed by competition. The key: letting communities decide for themselves the best route to building this infrastructure:

“….The importance of broadband communications networks to America’s economic development has never been more apparent. In our interconnected 21st century economy, job growth will depend on our ability to deliver faster and more reliable broadband to our businesses, our schools and our homes. Accordingly, local communities should have the opportunity to decide for themselves how to invest in their own infrastructure, including the options of working with willing incumbent carriers, creating incentives for private sector development, entering into creative public-private partnerships, or even building their own networks, if necessary or appropriate.”

The legislators reminded Chairman Wheeler of the intent of Telecommunications Act of 1996 –to eliminate barriers to entry into the broadband market and to promote competition, innovation and consumer choice — and encouraged the Chairman to “utilize the full arsenal of tools” that Congress enacted to promote competitive broadband service. Specifically asking the Chairman what plans the Commission intends to pursue to make progress on community broadband, the signatories emphasized how “[o]ur nation cannot afford to fall behind or to close off viable options for its communities, especially those in underserved rural areas, to connect and prosper.”

The full text of this bicameral letter can be found here.

Letter to Chairman Wheeler from Mayor of Wilson, NC Re: Importance of Local Choice

Tom Wheeler
Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

June 20, 2014

Dear Chairman Wheeler,

I am writing today to thank you for your support of broadband expansion throughout the U.S. and to encourage you to do whatever you must to remove state legislation that has restricted its growth.

Let me share our experiences here in Wilson, North Carolina, a community of 50,000 population, located halfway between New York and Florida. Our city’s economic history reflects our country’s transition from an agricultural to a global economy as Wilson has evolved from being the world’s largest tobacco market to North Carolina’s first Gigabit City.

As mayor of a non partisan City Council, I have worked with local leaders who are able to agree on broad, forward-thinking plans for our community by focusing on our community’s future welfare as the common goal.    Our community has  benefitted  from  this  non partisan approach  in  many  ways including the deployment of our community-owned fiber to the home broadband infrastructure. Our Gigabit network has not only helped retain our historical manufacturing and financial base but has allowed our community to attract 21st century information businesses, such as film effects companies, internet marketing firms, and to open our local labor force to the rest of the world’s employers.

This approach has also produced strong enduring results.  The City of Wilson’s credit rating was upgraded  by  Moody’s  and  Standard  and  Poor’s  in  late  2008,  shortly  after  the Greenlight  service launched. I am proud to note that Moody’s recently maintained our Aa2/A1 bond rating after 6 years of operating this broadband network, in a report which emphasized the highly responsible nature of our city’s implementation of this Gigabit network, and its projected long term stability.

Wilson has a long history of self-reliance and community owned infrastructure development based on experience.  In the years when electricity first developed, our community was left behind by the private developers of this new technology. Our response was to develop our own municipal electric utility that now serves six counties. As our economy evolved from a traditional manufacturing, agricultural and textile base to an information base, we forecast once again being left behind by the private  industry,  who  declined  our  invitation  to build  a  21st  century  fiber  network  together.  Our response was to build our own. Now North Carolina state law holds us back from expanding our community generated Gigabit services (found nowhere else in the state) to the five other rural counties we serve with electricity.

We thank you for your support for the deployment of next generation broadband infrastructure by any entity that has the courage and talent to make it happen, whether that is by the public sector, the private sector, or some creative mix of all the above. Our country’s ability to compete in a 21st century global market depends on all options being available.  Wilson’s Greenlight Network shows it can be done responsibly by a community itself.

Thank you for your interest. If I can provide any more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Mayor C. BruceRose
City of Wilson ,North Carolina

Announcing the Coalition for Local Internet Choice

We are proud to announce the Coalition for Local Internet Choice.

We are a diverse coalition of public and private entities who seek to protect the rights of local communities to determine their economic futures by having the right and opportunity to choose for themselves the best broadband internet infrastructure for their businesses, institutions and residents.

Why Local Internet Choice?

Modern Internet infrastructure is foundational to the economic futures of our communities—as well as the democratic discourse that thrives on the Internet.  And meeting the challenge of enabling that infrastructure will require the engagement of all parties, both private and public. As Senator John McCain said on the Senate floor during the introduction of the Community Broadband Act in 2005, “As a country, we cannot afford to cut off any successful strategy if we want to remain internationally competitive.”

  • Local communities have centuries of experience fostering public-private partnerships to stimulate deployment of modern local infrastructure and economic development
  • Local communities should have the right to decide the future educational opportunities for their children and healthcare options for their aging populations
  • Local communities, through their elected local officials, have deep experience in evaluating and making significant capital investments in infrastructure projects of all kinds
  • Local communities have a 20-year record of using fiber broadband infrastructure to stimulate local innovation and economic development, including being the first entities to invest in fiber infrastructure to serve schools and libraries with gigabit speeds
  • Local governments have vast experience in operating communications networks that support public safety first responders
  • Local communities prioritize reducing the local digital divide and ensuring that no one in the community should go without internet access
  • Local communities should decide their own economic (broadband) future

We’ll write more on each of these in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please sign up for updates on our website (www.LocalNetChoice.org) and thanks for your support of local Internet choice.

Joanne Hovis

Jim Baller

Chris Mitchell

Catharine Rice