Portland, Oregon: Local Broadband Authority Benefits Everyone

Portland Oregon skyline

When the city of Portland filed in support of the Wilson and Chattanooga FCC petitions, it just told its own story. For Portland, having unhindered local broadband authority meant being able to invest in fiber networks and to encourage local choice. This enabled public-private partnerships, saved money for taxpayers, enhanced public services and encouraged the deployment of modern infrastructure for local, regional, and shared use. Oregon does not limit local authority, unlike North Carolina and Tennessee, where state laws prohibit communities from providing better bandwidth and services for their region. Here are some excerpts from Portland’s filing:

“……we have been able to doggedly pursue access that we believe to be a basic right of our citizens…”

“…Putting the transportation communications infrastructure together with other …infrastructure allowed the City …to create a sophisticated high speed, redundant fiber optic communications system in combination with our government partners. As part of this endeavor, we entered into a transport agreement with the local incumbent cable company, Comcast — an agreement that may not have been possible if we were obstructed by anti-municipal broadband legislation that impedes public-private partnerships.”

“…Ultimately, we allocated $14 million in public funds to construct and connect the Integrated Regional Network Enterprise (IRNE) to serve the City of Portland…..Prior to …IRNE, we paid $8 million annually for private telephone service alone [emphasis added]….”

“…IRNE assets help connect transportation agencies, allowing better traffic control and response to emergencies… IRNE also provides high-speed data communications services to other governments, including the State of Oregon, Port of Portland, Cities of Hillsboro and Sherwood, Portland Public Schools. Multnomah County, Multnomah Educational Service District and the Metropolitan Service District. Portland State University and the United states Army Corps of Engineers lease dark fiber. The benefits to these public service agencies…are astounding.”

“…Most recently, cities in the Portland Metropolitan region were … considered for Google Fiber. This is in part due to a shared vision for the possibilities of broadband. However, this potential partnership is only possible in light of our ability to make determinations about with whom to partner, and the freedom to enter into partnerships unhampered by state legislation…”

Follow Portland’s lead and get involved! Take 5 minutes and tell the FCC why communities should have full local authority to improve its Internet. Details on how to file ex-parte comments in support of the Wilson and Chattanooga FCC Petitions are here.