Carnegie Mellon University

Next Century Cities

Next Century Cities' 2021 Virtual Conference

Metro21 attended the Next Century Cities' 2021 Virtual Conference: Broadband is the Electricity of the 21st Century on July 20th and 21st.

Next Century Cities invited scholars to share research related to broadband infrastructure, digital inclusion, digital equity, expanding access, increasing adoption, and other tech policy issues. The attendees engaged with federal, state, Tribal and local leaders, policymakers, and broadband advocates through interactive roundtables, fireside chats, and networking sessions.

 The invited scholars were:

  1. Mike Conlow - Blue State Digital
  2. Darrah Blackwater - Indigenous Law & Policy Fellow
  3. Colin Rhinesmith - Ph.D., Simmons University
  4. Brian Whitacre - Ph.D, Oklahoma State University
  5. Dominique Harrison, Ph.D, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

 Insights from the conference:

  • 28% of the American population is not connected or does not have access to broadband. This is the digital divide.
  • Building Sustainable Post Pandemic Digital Inclusion and Equity Solutions: Five Pillars of sustainable digital inclusion solution are affordability, internet connectivity, devices for every age group, training and skills development, and IT support for continued unfettered adoption.
  • NTIA’s commitment to connecting America and supporting Biden administration’s agenda
  • Deploy broadband infrastructure to communities with the greatest need.
    • Support Job Creation and workforce development.
    • Collaborate with states, Tribes, industry and federal agencies to effectively expand broadband access and digital inclusion.
    • Use to data to inform policies and investments.
  • Funding Opportunities for Communities on the Wrong Side of the Digital Divide: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 Grant Programs
    • Broadbank Infrastructure Deployment Grants - $288 Million
    • Connectivity Minority Communities Pilot Program - $268 Million
    • Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants - $980 Million
  • Five steps to get internet to all Americans – Brookings Article cited – Demand High-Speed Service, Pay for the broadband connections directly, Pay any qualified constructor, Support state and local governments that want to step up, Everyone counts or no one counts.
  • Higher broadband access will bring significant cost savings in many sectors of the economy, resulting in faster productivity growth. It will also produce lower prices for consumers, resulting in faster growth in living standards.
  • Remarks from Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore, Maryland: Increasing Broadband access is going to be one of the most important issues of our time for our communities and economy as a whole. We need to make sure that the solution takes into account the needs to the minority population and the people who need this “new electricity” the most.

 You can watch the conference recordings here.