Tag: "next century cities"

Posted January 4, 2017 by KateSvitavsky

Internet access for low-income households is becoming more affordable, thanks to an FCC modernization order that brings the Lifeline program into the 21st Century. 

Next Century Cities recently offered a webinar for people who want to learn more about changes to the Lifeline program; our own Christopher Mitchell moderated the event. Jaymie Gustafson, Director of Stakeholder Engagement for the Lifeline, and attorney Olivia Wein from the National Consumer Law Center shared their knowledge about the order, discussed how local governments can utilize the program in public housing, and suggested ways local governments can help make the program a success.

The program, which initially provided a $9.25 subsidy to eliminate or lower the cost of telephone services to low-income households, now allows recipients to use the funds to purchase broadband services. Gustafson noted one of the driving factors behind the modernization order:

“We know it’s so important in terms of helping children do their homework, in terms of people being able to search for and keep their jobs, in terms of accessing services, just in terms of interacting with society around you. Right now, broadband is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.”

About The Program

The Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC) governs the Lifeline program, which originated in 1985 and receives funding from the Universal Services Fund. The fund, established in 1935, supports other programs that invest in telecommunications infrastructure in addition to low-income access. Instead of receiving a voucher to purchase services from a carrier or an Internet Service Provider (ISP), the provider receives the subsidy directly from USAC; after the discount is applied to Lifeline participants' bill, the participant pays the remainder to the provider.

logo-USAC.png

Participants are eligible for the Lifeline program if they earn less than 135 percent of the federal poverty line, receive SNAP benefits,...

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Posted December 5, 2016 by lgonzalez

If you weren’t able to attend the Transforming Communities: Broadband Goals for 2017 and Beyond event in DC on Nov. 29 - 30, or were not able to watch the live stream, you can still be there in spirit. The November 30th panel discussions are now available to view on YouTube.

The entire video runs for 4:53 and includes discussion and comments from:

  • Senator John Boozman (R-AR)
  • Mayor Berke, Chattanooga, TN
  • Susan Crawford, John A. Reilly Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Berkman Center
  • Blair Levin, Senior Fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings
  • Gigi Sohn, Counselor to the Chairman at the Federal Communications Commission

A number of other leaders in the field of telecommunications participated in the panels and discussions, including our own Christopher Mitchell who led the panel discussion on "Leveraging High-Speed Internet for Success." The event was sponsored by Next Century Cities; the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), and US Ignite.

Posted November 29, 2016 by lgonzalez

As 2016 comes to a close, we face a new connectivity landscape. Next Century Cities, SHLB, and US Ignite are coming together to help community leaders prepare for the future with smart policies and keys to expanding local broadband efforts. The organizations are presenting Transforming Communities: Broadband Goals for 2017 and Beyond, bringing together connectivity leaders from the world of federal, state, and local agencies, as well as policy advisors, mayors, and leaders from anchor institutions.

The entire event will be in Washington, DC, at the Google offices - 25 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 900. Participants will gather with a networking reception tonight at 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. The main event will be tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. EST.

Christopher, as Policy Director of Next Century Cities, will moderate the first panel tomorrow, titled "Leveraging High-Speed Internet for Success." 

If you can’t make it to DC, the panel discussions will be live streamed YouTube. If you'll be in DC, you can register online through Eventbrite.

The Full Agenda:

  • Welcome: John Burchett, State Policy Counsel at Google
  • Welcome: Deb Socia, Next Century Cities, John Windhausen, SHLB, Bill Wallace, US Ignite
  • Opening Remarks: Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, NTIA
  • Keynote: Senator John Boozman (R-AR)

Leveraging High-Speed Internet for Success (First Panel)

  • Mayor Berke, Chattanooga, TN
  • Mayor Kirkham, Ammon, ID
  • Ed Bostick, CEO, Colorado Telehealth Network
  • S. Dallas Dance, Superintendent, Baltimore County Public Schools
  • Crosby, Kemper, Head of Kansas City Public Library

Moderated by Chris Mitchell, Policy Director, Next Century Cities and Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative, Institute for Local Self Reliance

Broadband Policy Priorities for a New Administration (Second Panel)

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Posted November 26, 2016 by Scott

Next Century Cities, a nonprofit advocate of high-speed Internet accessibility for all communities, and Internet Service Provider (ISP) Google Fiber are joining forces to support the second annual Digital Inclusion Leadership awards. 

The competition recognizes city governments that are spearheading or investing in community-based organizations that are tackling barriers to high-speed Internet service adoption, or what is commonly known as the “digital divide.” Next Century Cities is comprised of more than 150 mayors and city leaders dedicated to ensuring that all communities get access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband Internet service.  

The 2017 Digital Inclusion Leadership awards will feature two categories: Leader in Digital Inclusion Best Practices and Most Promising New Plan. There will be two winners in each category. All contest submissions are due February 10, 2017 and winners will be announced in spring, 2017.  

In a news release, Next Century Cities Executive Director Deb Socia said: 

“Approximately 50 million Americans don’t have internet in their homes. Families affected by the digital divide, many of whom are from lower-income neighborhoods, are at a disadvantage when it comes to doing homework, applying for jobs or staying in touch with loved ones. Whether cities are leading or partnering on programs, city governments have a major role to play in getting residents the digital access and resources they need, and we look forward to celebrating their innovations with the 2017 Digital Inclusion Awards.”

Winning projects from the inaugural 2015 Digital Inclusion Awards include:

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Posted September 20, 2016 by lgonzalez

As you say good-bye to September, consider making your way to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to attend the 2016 Broadband Communities Mag Annual Conference at the downtown Radisson Blu. The event is scheduled for October 18 - 20 and you can still register online.

The Economic Development Conference Series brings Fiber For The New Economy to the "City of Lakes" as part of its Community Toolkit Program. The conference is full of information you can use if your community is looking for ways to improve local connectivity through fiber. There will be presentations on economic development, financing, and smart policies that help lay the groundwork for future fiber investment. There are also some special sessions that deal specifically with rural issues and a number of other specialized presentations and panel discussions.

Christopher will be presenting twice on Wednesday, October 19th at 10:00 a.m. and again at 11:15 a.m. with several other community broadband leaders on the Blue Ribbon panel. They will address questions and discuss important updates, review helpful resources, and describe where we need to go next.

Next Century Cities will present a special Mayor’s Panel on October 20th and the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) will arrive on October 18th for a special day-long program.

Check out the full agenda online.

Key facts on the Broadband Communities’ Conference

What: “Fiber for The New Economy”

Where: Radisson Blu Downtown Hotel, 35 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402.

When: Oct. 18-20, 2016


Lake-Harriet-Minneapolis-skyline.jpg

Photo of Lake Harriet and the Minneapolis skyline courtesy of Baseball Bugs

Posted August 29, 2016 by lgonzalez

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued their order on August 10th supporting the states of Tennessee and North Carolina in their challenge from an FCC decision from February 2015. Both states objected to the FCC’s decision to preempt state laws preventing municipalities from providing fast, affordable, reliable connectivity via municipal Internet networks. The Appellate Court Judges reviewed the legal arguments, the precedent, and the interplay between federal authority and state sovereignty. 

The impact of their ruling will affect more than a few pages in a law school text book. Access to high-quality Internet access positively impacts real people and businesses and, as Cecila Kang captures in her recent article in the New York Times, the people who depend on it fear the outcome if their state legislators take it away.

Family Farm Fear

Kang profiles Vick Family Farms, a family potato farm in Wilson, North Carolina.  The Vick family chose to invest in a processing plant when they learned that Wilson’s Greenlight would provide the necessary connectivity. Greenlight allowed them to increase sales overseas. Now, they may lose that connection:

“We’re very worried because there is no way we could run this equipment on the internet service we used to have, and we can’t imagine the loss we’ll have to the business,” said Charlotte Vick, head of sales for the farm.

As Kang notes in her article, the FCC has no plans to appeal the decision, so battles will resume at the state level. Advocates will need to be twice as vigilant because incumbents - the only ones that come out ahead from this decision - may try to push state legislators for even tougher anti-competitive state barriers.

Pinetops: Poster Child For Good Connectivity

Kang checks in on the small town where Wilson’s Greenlight began offering Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Gigabit service about 14...

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Posted August 10, 2016 by lgonzalez

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decided to dismiss the FCC's decision to encourage Internet investment in Tennessee and North Carolina

Minneapolis, MN - The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decided today to dismiss the FCC's February 2015 decision to encourage Internet investment in Tennessee and North Carolina. Tennessee and North Carolina had both restricted local authority to build competitive networks.

"We're disappointed that the FCC's efforts to ensure local Internet choice have been struck down," says Christopher Mitchell with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "We thank the FCC for working so hard to fight for local authority and we hope that states themselves will recognize the folly of defending big cable and telephone monopolies and remove these barriers to local investment. Communities desperately need these connections and must be able to decide for themselves how to ensure residents and businesses have high quality Internet access."

ILSR and Next Century Cities filed an Amicus brief in support of the FCC's position. View the Court's Opinion here.

Contact:

Rebecca Toews

rtoews@ILSR.org

612-808-0689

Posted June 30, 2016 by Scott

Saratoga Springs, New York (pop. 5,600 28,000), has launched a Smart City Commission, whose mission is to enhance telecommunications and help the city become a leader in high-speed Internet service.

The startup of the Smart City Commission, which held its first meeting in March, comes as Saratoga Springs pursues becoming a model Intelligent Community. City leaders have determined that the best way to acheive Intelligent Community status, is to join Next Century Cities (NCC), and to adopt the organization's six guiding principles:

  1. High-speed Internet is necessary infrastructure.
  2. The Internet is nonpartisan.
  3. Communities must enjoy self-determination.
  4. Broadband is a community-wide endeavor.
  5. Meaningful competition drives progress.
  6. Collaboration benefits all.

The Commission’s members include chief information officers from the city, library, hospital, school district, as well members of the city’s convention and tourism bureau, the Chamber of Commerce and local business community.  

Learning From Other Communities

“It’s something I had been thinking about for about two years,” City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan told us, speaking about the Smart City Commission. A key task of the Commission will be to “fill out the questionnaire to ICF [Intelligent Community Forum] and develop a road map to becoming a Smart City,” she told us. “It seemed the best way to move forward on this project was to get a core group of stakeholders involved from the city.”

Membership in NCC will allow Saratoga Springs access to a network of knowledge from other cities that have the same desire to bring ubiquitous high-quality Internet access to their communities. The Intelligent Community Forum is a worldwide association of cities and regions dedicated to helping communities use information and communications technology to, among other things, address social problems and enhance the economic quality of local life. 

Goal: Gig Speed, Wi-Fi For Now

Currently, Saratoga Springs has a franchise agreement with Charter Communications (formerly Time Warner Cable) with the ISP providing maximum Internet access speeds of 30 Megabits per second...

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Posted May 6, 2016 by rebecca

Next Century Cities recently hosted "Digital Northwest," a summit for regional broadband leaders. Leaders from member cities all over the country gathered together to learn from one another and discuss digital inclusion, models for success, partnerships, and much more. 

Chris led a panel of mayors and city council leaders from cities with well-known municipal networks in a discussion of their networks and how their communities have benefitted. 

The panel featured: 

  • Mayor Jill Boudreau, Mt. Vernon, WA
  • Mayor Wade Troxell, Fort Collins, CO
  • City Council President Jeremy Pietzold, , Sandy OR
  • Councilmember David Terrazas, Santa Cruz, CA

Posted April 13, 2016 by lgonzalez

In addition to economic development, public savings, and a higher quality of life, better connectivity can promote more participation in the democratic process.

Next Century Cities, The Democracy Fund, and the Benton Foundation want to promote innovation surrounding ways high-speed Internet fosters participatory democracy and civic engagement. These groups invite communities to apply for a Next Generation Engagement Award.

Winning communities will receive:

  • Up to $30,000 for new or existing projects that help citizens become more engaged in the democratic process
  • Technical assistance to implement their plans
  • Connections with other like-minded municipalities
  • At least three communities will be selected for special inaugural Awards

Some examples of eligible projects suggested by Next Century Cities include: participatory budgeting; public transportation and urban planning; involvement in local government deliberations; or community concern reporting and response.

Instructional Webinar on April 20th, Learn More

For communities seeking guidance in applying or just looking for more information, Next Century Cities will host a webinar on April 20th at 3 p.m. ET. The webinar will be available here.

To learn more about the Awards, contact Todd O'Boyle, Deputy Director of Next Century Cities, at Todd(at)NextCentiryCities.org. You can also download a fact sheet on the Awards for more information, along with the online Application, and the Budget, both of which must be submitted by June 15, 2016.

Deb and Todd Talk With Craig About The Awards

You can learn more about the awards and the project in this episode of Craig Settles' Gigabit Nation. He interviewed Deb Socia and Todd O'Boyle from Next...

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