ITC Steering Committee Crafts Broadband Message

Article excerpt

Last week's meeting of the NLC Information Technology and Communications (ITC) Steering Committee in Washington, D.C., was especially timely, as key developments emerged regarding funding for and access to advanced broadband technology.

As cities across the country await distribution in coming months of the initial round of funding through the Recovery Act's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), members of the ITC committee, led by Councilmember Steve Peterson of Bloomington, Minn., crafted NLC's policy positions on broadband and its implementation at the municipal level.

Specifically, the group's policy discussion focused on: quality, affordable Internet access for all; public/private collaboration to encourage broadband competition; community broadband networks as a vehicle for economic development; integrating broadband deployment with transportation and infrastructure upgrades; and a universal connectivity standard that will boost America's standing among the world's leading service providers.

In addition to the policy discussions, the two-day meeting featured presentations from a number of key stakeholders in the field, including representatives from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and One Economy Corporation.

Cathy Seidel, chief of the FCC Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau, and Eugene Huang, government operations director for the FCC's National Broadband Task Force, discussed the current state of broadband affairs and the agency's blueprint for expanded coverage, scheduled to roll out in mid-February 2010.

Seidel and Huang outlined the task force's three-pronged approach to broadband reform: deployment of expanded service to communities across the nation; adoption and use of broadband by the general public; and formation of comprehensive broadband policies, including ones related to healthcare, education, public safety, education and government operations. Both speakers expressed the agency's great desire for input from NLC and its member cities in order to make government broadband usage more efficient and transform civic engagement.

Tom Power, NTIA's chief of staff, also delivered an update on his agency's initiatives, including BTOP oversight and the development of a national broadband map, both outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enacted earlier this year. …