Intelligent Community Forum Declares Broadband to be a Utility Essential to Growth and Quality of Life

Issues resolution for consideration by city and county councils around the world

New York City, June 6, 2017 – The Board of the Intelligent Community Forum approved a resolution today calling on cities and counties to declare high-speed, high-capacity, affordable broadband a utility: an essential infrastructure service provided principally for public benefit, which enables economic growth and greater quality of life when it achieves ubiquitous coverage. ICF encourages city and county Councils to download a copy of the resolution at and submit it for consideration and formal approval.

Broadband has already been declared a human right in such nations as Finland and by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly. In issuing this resolution, ICF seeks to translate that global aspiration to the local level, where broadband is actually deployed. In cities, states, provinces and nations around the world, broadband deployment and adoption are hindered by monopolistic or oligopolistic markets, profit-driven business models and regulatory barriers erected at the urging of incumbent Internet Service Providers. The areas most affected are those traditionally on the margins, whether due to poverty, ethnicity or low population density. ICF believes that this is no longer acceptable because broadband has become a utility as necessary to economic growth and quality of life as reliable electricity, clean water and functioning waste disposal.

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.

“Today’s digitalized world requires a good quality communication networks,” said Suvi Linden, a UN Broadband Commissioner, former Communications Minister of Finland and recipient of ICF’s 2011 Visionary of the Year Award. “They are part of a nation’s critical infrastructure. It is a responsibility of the public sector to ensure citizens accessibility and affordability to quality broadband.”

About Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum ( think tank, headquartered in New York, is a global network of 160 counties, cities and towns with a think tank at its heart. ICF studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the new demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT). To help cities and towns build prosperous economies, solve social problems and enrich local cultures, the Intelligent Community Forum conducts research, hosts global events, publishes books, and produces its high-profile annual international awards program. The Forum has two Institutes in North America dedicated to the study of the movement and an affiliate ICF Canada organization. Global leaders, thinkers, and media observers follow and participate in the ongoing global dialogue initiated by the Intelligent Community Forum. In 2012 ICF was invited to participate at the Nobel Peace Prize conference in Oslo and in 2014, its model and work was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which, according to the American government, was "aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st century jobs.” The Forum’s Foundation has an association made up of 145 designated Intelligent Communities worldwide, which is represented by mayors and key civic leaders. For more information, go to For more details on the Intelligent Community Forum’s recent publications and programs,

Intelligent Community Forum Contacts
Matthew Owen
Director of Operations
Intelligent Community Forum
Phone: +1 646-291-6166 (x105) -
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Newcommunities

Matthew Owen
Director of Operations, Intelligent Community Forum
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