Next Century Cities

Communities Responding to Natural Disasters Through Network Resilience

As local governments begin to look at the communications networks present in their communities, they must not only focus on how to expand them so that all their citizens are connected but develop strategies to ensure that they remain operational under the most stressful conditions. During a natural disaster, cellular and broadband connections are used to get weather updates, procure information regarding evacuations, shelter in place orders, or other governmental alerts that are intended to keep citizens appraised of the current situation.

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Leadership Could Shape Broadband Access for Decades to Come

In February 2021, Next Century Cities collected feedback from local officials on ways to improve broadband over the next four years. This letter includes several of their submissions. Their words echo sentiments of local leaders nationwide, calling for higher broadband Internet speeds, lower prices, and improved service quality. The Biden-Harris Administration’s leadership would not only have an immediate impact on their communities and others but would pave the way for inclusive and equitable broadband policies for years to come.

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.