“21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure -- modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains, and the fastest internet.”
“I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”
– President Obama, State of the Union, January 20, 2015
In addition to reaffirming his commitment to strong net neutrality, the President had a lot to say last week about the need for broadband that works, and how it can help drive our economy and deliver high-paying jobs. It was a renewal of his commitment earlier this month in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to use every tool the federal government has to support communities trying to deliver high-speed broadband — which, in his words, “is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.”
From municipal groups like the National League of Cities, to industry associations like CompTel, to leaders in Congress and public interest groups, the response was overwhelmingly positive. And as we look to what’s next, we are pleased to see Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) joining the President’s call to level the playing field for new competitors.
What does this mean for you?
If your region has a great community broadband offering, encourage leaders involved with the project to participate in the White House Community Broadband Summit, or one of the regional workshops slated for this year, to share the experience. If your area is considering new broadband solutions — including community broadband — your state and local leaders will find a wealth of new resources from the Department of Commerce. And if you’re just not satisfied with the quality of Internet available where you live, get involved! Check out some of the regions around the country in our new report on community broadband to see what happens when a few involved citizens, in partnership with local leaders and the private sector, make bold commitments to bringing more competition and faster, better broadband into their area.
So what’s next?
First, just days after the President’s State of the Union, we are seeing leaders in Congress and around the country take action — and have been particularly encouraged to see Sens. Booker, Markey, and McCaskill lend their voices to the need to restore a level playing field for communities seeking to deliver broadband that works.
Next month, we will hold the first meeting of the Broadband Opportunity Council, bringing together over a dozen agencies in the federal government with a single purpose: to slash unnecessary barriers that could keep companies from investing, entering new markets, or building fast broadband infrastructure.
And the Administration as a whole is taking action. For example, the Department of Agriculture has officially opened its Community Connect program for the next round of loans, and eligible providers can begin applying today.
The Department of Commerce has launched its new BroadbandUSA initiative, and has put the final touches on its primer to help communities encourage Internet adoption and explore options to bring faster, better broadband to more places. To learn more about the support that BroadbandUSA can provide your community, Commerce will host a free webinar on January 28 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern — you can RSVP here.
BroadbandUSA will also be holding a Regional Workshop on February 4 in Jackson, Mississippi, and in the coming weeks, we’ll be announcing plans for more regional events around the nation, as well as the Community Broadband Summit slated for this summer here at the White House.
So get involved, in your community and online, and watch this space for more news on how the nation is coming together in support of faster, better broadband.
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