Declaring Broadband a Utility or Essential Service
On June 6, the Board of the Intelligent Community Forum approved a resolution for consideration by the Councils of cities and counties around the world. It calls for high-speed, high-capacity, affordable broadband to be declared a utility, defined as an essential infrastructure service provided principally for public benefit, which enables economic growth and greater quality of life when it achieves ubiquitous coverage.
The resolution does not recommend or require public ownership of broadband assets. Instead, it is it is meant to encourage an increasing diversity of operating models including private ownership, public-private partnerships, open-access networks and community-owned networks to achieve the goal of ubiquitous coverage. It recognizes that “utility” – also called an “essential service” or “service of general interest” – is a term with legal ramifications and it recommends that each Council consider the resolution within its own unique context.
Our goal is to signal that the first priority for broadband deployment must be the public good, just as it is for electricity, water, sewer and other essential services. These core utilities were once provided by private-sector companies, but the public good demanded that they no longer be consider simply as businesses, but as part of the infrastructure of civilization. The time has come for broadband to be seen in the same light.
Click here to download copy of the resolution in PDF format for consideration by your Council.
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