The Next Century Cities Weekly Bulletin
January 12, 2021

Happy new year and welcome back! Our Weekly Bulletin includes local broadband highlights and insights from the broadband community. Please email Brittany-Rae Gregory or Lukas Pietrzak if your community has announcements to share.
2021 Next Century Cities Policy Priorities
A new calendar year is always an opportunity to recommit to our policy priorities. As Next Century Cities works to improve broadband access and increase adoption, our policy priorities give color on how we achieve those goals. Our work shows why addressing the digital divide requires the grit and determination from local officials who care coupled with community-level partnerships. We are committed to elevating and incorporating local insights into broadband policymaking at all three levels of government. In 2021, NCC will continue to:

  • Expand Broadband Access
  • Infuse Local Perspectives Into Federal Policymaking
  • Build Bridges Between Local & State Leadership
  • Advocate for Accurate Broadband Data & Pricing Information
  • Promote Robust Competition
  • Increase Broadband Adoption
  • Center Digital Equity In Access and Adoption Strategies

Does your municipality have additional suggestions?
Members should email us. We are always interested in feedback.
The 2020 Next Century Cities Change Makers
In December, we announced the inaugural Next Century Cities Change Makers Awards, which recognized mayors and other local leaders working to address digital inequities in their communities. Meet the 2020 Change Makers and learn about their extraordinary work in our 2020 Yearbook.

If you are an award recipient or a nominator of an awardee and you have not submitted your mailing address, please share your preferred address here to receive a hard copy.
The 117th Congressional Session Convenes with a Renewed Focus on Broadband Access, Affordability, and Adoption
Technology and innovation issues are a top priority for Senator Mark Kelly (AZ). In a recent interview, he shared concerns about broadband access in Northern Arizona and in parts of the Navajo Nation. Additionally, there are incoming members in both the U.S. House and Senate that have championed tech policy issues before, including on topics such as privacy, telehealth, cybersecurity, and broadband access. Senator Bill Hagerty (TN) believes that internet access is an important part of our nation’s infrastructure, and Sen. Hickenlooper (CO) has previously worked to expand rural broadband as governor of Colorado. In the House, Representative Marilyn Strickland (WA), plans to advocate for broadband to be treated as a utility that should be universally available at an affordable price.

To share community-level perspectives with members of Congress, NCC members can contact Ryan Johnston to coordinate meetings. 
NCC Members in the News
Marin County, California Launches “Digital Marin,” an initiative designed to identify community-specific causes of the digital inequities and solutions to bridging the digital divide. (GovTech)

In Raleigh, North Carolina a new project developed from the partnership between the Friday Institute and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will examine ways to close the homework gap in North Carolinian communities. (North Carolina State University

School districts in California’s San Francisco Bay area are working to develop their own wireless networks to address the existing digital divide among students and families. Participating cities include San Jose and Oakland. (San Jose Inside

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the launch of the “Mass Internet Connect” initiative, which will expand broadband access to underserved communities statewide. (WWLP News
Broadband Headlines
In New York, Governor Cuomo did not sign or veto the broadband bill passed by the assembly and senate in 2020 that would have allowed for a study of the state’s broadband needs. 

The Arkansas Legislative Council approved funding for broadband studies in Sherwood, Tull, and Ward, as well as Little River County, Perry County, the Eagle Ridge Property Owners Association, located in Pulaski County, and Kick Start Sheridan, a program in Sheridan/Grant County.

Bar Harbor, Maine’s City Council voted to approve a $750,000 budget for a fiber network that will serve City-owned buildings and provide a connection point for providers to lease access.

Idaho and Lewis Counties recognized completion of a $1.32 million project that has expanded access to around 3,000 unserved residents in less than five months. 

An internet network outage in Worcester, Massachusetts brought the importance of internet access to local officials’ attention, leading community leaders to consider beginning a feasibility study for a municipal network. 

USC Annenberg published a report: How far is California from high-speed broadband Internet for all? The study evaluates Governor Gavin Newsom’s goal for every Californian to have high-speed connectivity. It found that about 98% of urban residents and only about two-thirds of nonurban residents are within reach of 100/10 Mbps services.

Mercer County, Pennsylvania has launched a new wireless internet service provider. The County recently approved a $650,000 grant for Bo Limits Broadband LLC of Stoneboro to obtain tower leases, licensing, engineering analysis and electrical installation to provide service in unserved or underserved areas. 
Upcoming Opportunities
Requests for Proposals (RFP)
The City of Victoria, Texas – alongside education, healthcare, and economic entities – is searching for a development partner to assist with the City’s broadband access and adoption challenges. Access the RFP here


Broadband 101 Webinar
On January 21st from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. EST, Next Century Cities will host a webinar to discuss broadband mapping, funding, and examples of local initiatives designed to improve broadband access and increase adoption rates. The conversation will also include a review of COVID-19’s impact on local broadband initiatives and opportunities that support recovery. Register here to attend. Local officials who would like to present should contact Corian Zacher.
Michigan Moonshot Digital Inclusion Toolkit Webinar
The Michigan Moonshot has partnered with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance for a virtual seminar that will include resources for local leaders to support digital equity and inclusion in their respective communities. The webinar is scheduled for January 14th from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 CST p.m. Register here

Job Announcements