County Executives of America, on Behalf of its 700 Member Counties and Their Residents, Plans to Bring Free Nationwide Broadband to All Americans
WASHINGTON, April 26 /PRNewswire/ — Following months of due diligence and based on the findings of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan, County Executives of America (CEA) announced today that it intends to provide free broadband wireless service to the residents and public service employees of its 700 member counties. The plan calls for CEA to work with strategic partners to construct a new nationwide wireless broadband network using the AWS-3 broadband spectrum that is unused and being held by the FCC. Participating CEA member counties will be the anchor tenants for this network and are guaranteed free access to a basic broadband service for all their residents and public service employees.
“CEA believes strongly in the rights of every American, regardless of income, race, or ethnicity to have access to broadband and equal access to the economic development, jobs and enhanced educational opportunities that it provides. Like the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, our counties have long realized that free or low cost wireless broadband using the people’s spectrum is the best and most effective way to narrow the broadband divide. Data from the FCC and the Department of Commerce show that the main reason that 93 million Americans don’t have broadband is because it is unaffordable. The problem requires new innovative solutions,” said Mike Ragsdale, president of CEA and mayor of Knox County, Tenn.
To accelerate the rollout of this nationwide program, CEA is also announcing today that it has applied for $122 million of stimulus broadband grants with the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to roll out the operating plan in 12 leading counties in major markets throughout the United States. CEA has applied for stimulus funding through a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant from the NTIA to help jumpstart the rollout of this program. Currently, NTIA is considering applications to make use of the remaining $2.9 billion in broadband stimulus monies Congress allocated in the American Recovery and Reconstruction Act (ARRA) to make broadband affordable and universally available.
CEA plans to use $122 million in stimulus grant money to construct a network to provide free wireless broadband access to more than 14 million Americans – nearly 5 million of whom cannot access broadband because they cannot afford it. According to economic studies, this type of investment is also estimated to help create approximately 200,000 jobs in the participating counties.
Specifically, the CEA broadband stimulus application aims to bring free broadband access to 12 major counties and serving the residents of Allegheny County, Pa.; Bronx County, N.Y.; Chambers and Kaufmann Counties, Texas; DeKalb County, Ga.; Kenosha County, Wis.; New Castle County, Del.; Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, Md.; Will and Cook Counties, Ill.; and Salt Lake City County, Utah. CEA has selected Silicon Valley-based M2Z Networks to build out the networks in each county.
The FCC’s National Broadband Plan currently recommends delaying the availability of the AWS-3 spectrum until mid 2011. According to CEA Executive Director Mike Griffin, “CEA’s operating plan for a free nationwide network and the related BTOP application will deliver affordable broadband and much needed competition for our counties and their residents using a public/private partnership model. Speeding up the FCC’s process to make more broadband spectrum available for use by CEA and its members is commonsense and supported by the data from the National Broadband Plan.”
Because CEA and its members have long been advocating the FCC to make the AWS-3 spectrum available for broadband services, CEA also wholeheartedly supports the sentiments of Senator Jay Rockefeller (D, WVA) who, as head of the Senate Commerce Committee, challenged the FCC to deliver innovative solutions at an April 14 oversight hearing when he said, “I am going to challenge the FCC to make the hard choices that will help bring broadband to every corner of this country. Putting ideas on paper is not enough. Just seeking comment on a slew of issues is not enough. It’s action that counts.”
About County Executives of America (www.countyexecutives.org):
County Executives of America (CEA) is a non-partisan national association that is dedicated specifically to helping elected county chief executives achieve their county’s social and economic development goals through federal and state government advocacy at both the legislative and executive branches. CEA has been in existence for over 40 years and its current membership includes over 700 County Executives, County Judges, Parish and Borough Presidents, City-County Mayors, Commission Presidents and Chairs, all of whom are elected at-large by county residents.
About M2Z Networks:
Silicon Valley-based M2Z Networks’ goal is to boost the U.S. economy by building a free and fast national broadband network. Since May 2006, the FCC has been considering M2Z’s license application for its network, to be constructed in the 2155-2175 MHz spectrum band. The FCC has recently extended its consideration of M2Z’s proposal in a forthcoming rulemaking. If approved, the M2Z proposal would guarantee delivery of its broadband service to at least 95 percent of Americans within 10 years. M2Z is backed by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers; Charles River Ventures; and Redpoint Ventures. For more information, please visit www.M2ZNetworks.com and www.FreeBroadbandNow.org.
SOURCE County Executives of America