U.S. cable providers are lagging behind the rest of the world in the ability to deliver high-speed Internet. The presence of Google Fiber in some areas is spurring competitors to keep pace, but the change isn’t coming fast enough for some cities. To that end, the Next Century Cities campaign wants to bring fast, reliable, municipal Internet to cities across the U.S.
The goal of the campaign is to support the efforts to bring high-speed Internet to their communities by supporting city leaders. An official release reads:
City leaders want to expand opportunity within their communities. They want to strengthen citizen engagement, enhance academic achievement, and increase the efficient use of resources. Leaders hope to improve the efficacy of and outcomes associated with health care, encourage the growth of small businesses, and ensure public safety.
As we’ve seen in the case of Google Fiber, broadband providers are loathe to upgrade their services unless forced to, especially when they have a monopoly in a certain area. The campaign realizes that in a more global information economy, high-speed Internet is no longer a service that citizens should have to wait for.
“The leaders whose communities participate in Next Century Cities know that reliable, affordable, and fast Internet is no longer a luxury. Like electricity and plumbing, it is now essential infrastructure,” the statement continues. And there are plenty of cities that share this viewpoint.
“[The campaign has] already generated a lot of interest in other cities, so it justifies what we’ve been thinking all along — that people really want this,” Deb Socia, NCC’s executive director, told MotherBoard, “Over the next month or two we’ll formalize it. I think we’ll increase our numbers pretty substantially.”
The campaign itself has a set of principles which define how it wants to implement high-speed Internet. “The Internet is non-partisan,” “meaningful competition drives progress” and “High-speed Internet is necessary infrastructure” are all consumer-first positions, but improving Internet access could mean a more useful Internet for everyone.
As the net neutrality debate continues, it’s possible that consumers and businesses could lose out. Deals like the Netflix Comcast agreement could have wide-ranging implications for access to high-speed service. Putting control back into the hands of citizens, local leaders and local representatives, this campaign could do more to democratize high-speed Internet than any other.