Next Century Cities

Next Century Cities Submits Comments on the FCC’s Request for Response to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

Next Century Cities submitted comments in response to the Wireline Competition Bureau’s January 4th public notice requesting comments on how the Federal Communications Commission should implement the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program as designated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. NCC’s comments focus on developing an inclusive and competitive list of participating providers, incorporating pricing disclosure requirements to help the FCC assess affordability, and partnering with local and state officials who are critical partners for promoting the program.

2021 Policy Priorities

Next Century Cities is focused on improving broadband access and increasing adoption while advocating for a robust, competitive broadband marketplace. The high-level priorities below provide examples of NCC’s work at various levels of government. Each is aimed at providing access to high-speed, affordable, and reliable internet connections to every resident in every community.

Welcome to Memphis

Known for its deep roots in music and unforgettable food, Memphis is also known for its long-standing digital divide. Broadband connectivity has always been elusive to segments of Memphis’ population, a reality that has crippled their ability to adapt when COVID-19 encroached into their neighborhoods. Remote learning and work from home mandates have, since, forced connectivity challenges onto the priority lists of local government leaders. Meanwhile, community leaders and private sector partners have acquired critical support to expand broadband access and boost adoption.

An Exploration of the Digital Divide | Long Beach, California

This case study analyzes the housing-related financial strain felt by Long Beach residents and explores the intersection of housing and internet access in Long Beach. The qualitative data for this case study was gathered through one-onone interviews with public officials, local social service professionals, a review of city budgets from 2014-2020, and a review of press coverage and studies that focus on housing and internet adoption in Long Beach. Based on this research, the following recommendations could improve connectivity for residents. 

Broadband Adoption | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Across New Mexico, school districts and local governments are adapting to a new normal by supporting students and young adults preparing to enter the workforce. While officials have been working to close the digital divide for years, additional funding from the CARES Act and state resources are allowing Albuquerque officials to pursue innovative solutions that can close the divide with greater efficiency. These goals are not being achieved strictly through the government’s work.

Broadband Adoption | Mesa, Arizona

The Mesa, Arizona community is taking major steps to bridge the digital divide for residents across their community. Although Arizona has begun to see a decline in their COVID-19 cases, the municipal government, school district, and community leaders continue to take decisive action to ensure that every household has access to technology and the internet for as long as stay at home orders remain in place. Mesa’s specific focus on their student population is a method adopted by many communities across the country.

Broadband Adoption | Detroit, Michigan

Once a center for music production and automotive engineering, the City of Detroit has spent the last 10 years recovering from decades of depopulation, systemic divestment, and underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure. Six years after it declared financial bankruptcy, municipal leaders, public school officials, and grassroots activists are all working to develop programs that will improve internet access and facilitate adoption for all residents. Detroit should continue to consult with local nonprofits to support neighborhood-based digital ambassador programs.

Broadband Adoption | Huntsville, Alabama

With approximately 200,000 residents, Huntsville is the second-largest city in Alabama. It houses the brainpower and imagination that fuels NASA’s space flight center and the US Army’s missile command. Research and engineering are an integral part of the City’s legacy. Long before they were known as a GIG City, residents and small businesses complained about expensive, unreliable internet connectivity. In this technology hub, broadband access is an expectation, much like access to clean water and electricity. However, today, broadband access is still unequal.

How Free Internet for Students in ‘Gig City’ Will Outlast the Pandemic

In the summer of 2020, the Hamilton County (TN) public school system – which encompasses the city of Chattanooga – announced it would be providing high-speed internet access to families with students on free or reduced lunch plans through a program called EdConnect. The service is funded through the next ten years, the school board says, meaning the free high-speed internet should well outlast the pandemic.