Contact: Mike Lynch, Legislative Director (703) 519-8035 x 202
For Immediate Release – April 21, 2023 - The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) welcomes this opportunity to join with cities, towns, counties and advocates for consumers, civil rights and digital equity as well as the community broadband industry and utilities in supporting the Community Broadband Act. Thank you, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) for reintroducing the Community Broadband Act of 2023 (H.R. 2552). This legislation will empower local governments to ensure their residents have equitable broadband access by removing roadblocks for public-private partnerships and locally-owned broadband providers.
Municipal broadband gives equal opportunity for access to fast, affordable internet while future-proofing infrastructure and providing equal opportunity for access to broadband. Municipal broadband can increase public safety by providing faster, more reliable communications to local police departments, fire stations and EMT's as well as improved traffic-signal management and real-time local and statewide intelligent transportation systems to coordination and notification. NATOA has supported this bill in the last three sessions of Congress because the Community Broadband Act is legislation that seeks to make sure local governments and their constituents have the tools needed to address broadband equity in their communities by prohibiting state laws that ban or limit broadband systems administered by municipalities, co-ops, Tribes or public-private partnerships.
NATOA members believe this bill will eliminate preemptive and restrictive laws harming local governments' ability to address digital discrimination. Local governments are often hampered by outdated or ineffective state laws and federal rules that impede our efforts to address digital equity and inclusion with our tools at hand, such as the prudent management of the public rights-of-way and public property. At the local government level, we know well how to be responsive to local needs, including by providing nondiscriminatory access to broadband services. State laws that limit municipal broadband or public-private broadband partnerships hamper our efforts to address digital equity, deploy networks and provide digital services to areas that lack equitable access to affordable, high-quality broadband.
NATOA appreciates the Community Broadband Act of 2023’s intent to remove burdens on local governments that may be preventing both efforts and access to federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding to address long-standing digital discrimination in some communities. The tremendous infusion of federal broadband funding and support stemming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law should be available to residents of all states.