Federal and state policymakers continue to ignore, weaken and, in some instances, block local input and control of broadband. This needs to stop if the country is to ever have viable, affordable broadband for all.
Even though community broadband has proven itself incredibly valuable and viable, broadband is taking a beating in some areas of the country thanks to what has become a siege against municipal broadband by the large telecom incumbents, including AT&T, Comcast and others. This effort has led to a backlash against muni broadband in some states, depriving communities of a well-tested option when it comes to high-speed connectivity to the Internet and the digital economy.
The only way we can fight back is to start with reliable, locally generated data from those in the trenches. This is critically important. Nobody knows about local economies like economic development professionals, community groups, elected officials, co-ops and other local organizations.
Right now, several crucial federal and state broadband policy decisions are being made that will benefit from local economic expertise, input and advocacy. Who better to help inform those decisions than local economic development professionals? If communities don’t have this expertise at the table in Washington, D.C., and state capitals, local broadband could lose big. So, if they won’t seat you at the table, bring a chair.
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When a local official is not engaged in the promotion of broadband, like we have seen in some foothill communities there is no one to represent the local community. This is a double slap in the face of citizens in the need for broadband access for commerce, remote work, healthcare, education, and public safety. You should ask your County supervisor and City Council person, what are you doing to bring broadband to our community?