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President Obama’s community broadband initiative follows Santa Cruz’s path

By Steve Blum
TellUs Venture Associates
Contributor, Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Broadband competition makes local businesses competitive.

January 20, 2015 — Santa Cruz, CA

It looks like Santa Cruz County is on the White House’s invitation list for a community broadband summit planned for June. President Barack Obama pledged to support the Next Century Cities coalition – the county is a charter member – in a speech on Wednesday. He promised to meet with mayors and county supervisors from the coalition to talk about how to better develop broadband infrastructure and service at the local level.

“It’s an honor to have the White House recognize the work our County has done to increase high speed Internet access for our residents,” said Aptos supervisor Zach Friend. “But even more importantly, it’s a great testament to the president to put broadband expansion on par with other economic development and infrastructure discussions in our country. For too long, the need for broadband expansion has taken a back seat to other economic development policy goals and the president’s highlighting of the issue, and our work locally, is a great leap forward.”

Obama set out a five point program to boost community broadband efforts. A key action item is cutting the red tape involved in building infrastructure, similar to the effort Friend is leading here in Santa Cruz. Other measures include providing technical assistance, implementing rural broadband subsidies approved last year, preempting state restrictions on municipal broadband and organizing the June meeting with local leaders.

Today, high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. This isn’t just about making it easier to stream Netflix or scroll through your Facebook newsfeed,“ Obama told a crowd in Cedar Falls, Iowa. ”This is about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in a global economy. It’s about giving the entrepreneur, the small businessperson on Main Street a chance to compete with the folks out in Silicon Valley, or across the globe.”

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