Editor's Note: Next Century Cities released the following press release, signed by representatives of 35 of the 95 cities supporting the organization's six principles. The link to the release on the organization's web site.
35 Mayors and Elected Officials Call for Accessible Broadband Performance Information Following GAO Investigation
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2015 – Today, 35 mayors and city officials sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging uniform and accessible reporting on broadband network performance. The letter, coordinated by Next Century Cities, was prompted by the findings of a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, BROADBAND PERFORMANCE: Additional Actions Could Help FCC Evaluate its Efforts to Inform Consumers. Cities signing the letter include major metropolitan areas such as Boston, Kansas City, and Seattle, as well as smaller communities such as Mount Vernon, WA, Salisbury, NC and Yellow Springs, OH.
“The GAO report offers an opportunity to assess how we measure network performance,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “If we are truly committed to ensuring access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband Internet, we need to think seriously about how we measure speed, cost, and reliability, and how we communicate this information to consumers.”
City leaders encourage the FCC to heed the recommendations of the GAO, consider standardized measurement of network performance, and develop easily-comprehensible materials to communicate this information to citizens. The signers feel strongly that reliable, understandable information is critical for citizens and governments alike as they seek to develop next-generation broadband Internet.
The GAO report found that current FCC requirements on network performance do not obligate providers to use standard measurements, while existing FCC reports on network performance are written in technical language that limits their usefulness to consumers. The officials signing onto the letter are members of Next Century Cities, a city-to-city initiative founded to support communities and their elected leaders as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet.
In support of this effort to provide clarity and transparency in the provision of broadband services, 35 Next Century Cities member communities wrote: “Efforts to develop this core infrastructure are impeded when our citizens are unable to accurately gauge the quality and speed of their Internet…As broadband Internet becomes increasingly critical to the well-being of towns and cities across the country, being able to reliably measure and compare network performance will help to ensure that we, as elected leaders, are delivering the essential infrastructure our communities need."