Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

City Leaders Push Increased Broadband Access

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

City Leaders Push Increased Broadband Access

Article excerpt

Elected municipal officials from the National League of Cities (NLC) and representatives of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) outlined their concerns in a recent meeting with Nancy Victory, assistant secretary of the Department of Commerce, and her staff. Local elected officials governments strongly supported the further deployment of broadband access, but insist that the deployment not place an unfair burden on taxpayers or compromise public safety, two groups representing local government interests.

Industry has recently identified local government as the impediment to deployment of broadband services across the country, while it downplays the fact that it greatly overestimated market demand and was ill-prepared for the downturn in the economy. This approach fails to acknowledge local government's fiduciary responsibilities, duty to protect and preserve public property and duty to ensure public safety, the groups told Victory.

The latest industry-driven effort is aimed at denying local government the fight to fair and reasonable compensation for occupancy of public lands, which if successful, would result in what essentially would be a gift of public property to telecommunications companies at the expense of taxpayers.

"Other companies including providers of cable, gas and electric services, routinely compensate local government for occupancy of the public rights-of-way as a normal reoccurring cost (rent) of doing business. Yet, certain sectors of the telecommunications industry aggressively assert that these normal business costs should not apply to them," said Denise Brady, president of NATOA. …

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