High-Speed Internet Is Essential For All Counties

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The National Association of Counties' Broadband Task Force was chartered with the premise that "if you can't connect… you can't compete." It is the equity issue of our hour. After months of study and dialogue, our Task Force concluded that a comprehensive, coordinated approach is needed to pursue new broadband infrastructure investment, public policies, and user skills. This report details our findings, best practices and policy recommendations for equitable broadband access. Our findings show that:

  • County officials play a crucial role as policymakers, funders, data aggregators, conveners, and partners in pursuing sustainable solutions to broadband access, affordability, and reliability. Therefore county officials require the knowledge, policy tools, funding resources, and support necessary to meet community broadband needs.
  • Federally supported, locally collected, and verified data is imperative to understand America's true state of connectivity.
  • Eliminating our nation's digital divide and ensuring universal, reliable, affordable broadband access will require multiple technological solutions (with redundancy and scale), including fiber, satellite, cellular, fixed wireless, cable, and future innovations.
  • Open "middle mile" systems can increase competition and result in improved affordability and access.
  • Federal resources used to eliminate the digital divide should incentivize future-proofed systems (i.e., symmetrical 1gbps network) and require coordination between local governments and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to ensure community needs are met within acceptable timeframes.
  • Ultimately, broadband should be regulated as a utility to eliminate the digital divide effectively and comprehensively.

Broadband Task Force: High-Speed Internet Is Essential For All Counties