I am a Global Government Specialist with Cisco Systems, working with governments worldwide to help them address municipal infrastructure and broadband planning.
One of the conversations cities and municipalities frequently have is how to provide broadband services to agencies and citizens. Municipal broadband gives equitable access to connectivity and services while securely connecting all public services to enhance citizens’ lives. Cities and municipalities using municipal broadband improve residents’ connectivity to enable remote work, access to public services, educational services, more accessible transportation, and healthcare support.
Frequently I get asked, “What is the economic impact of using a municipal broadband solution?”.
I say greater broadband availability leads to economic growth. We find this in job creation, where multiple studies confirm the effects of investing in network infrastructure increases the availability of jobs. Building and maintaining a municipal broadband network can create jobs in the local community, from construction and installation to customer service and support.
When a city or municipality provides broadband services, it can increase competition in the market, leading to lower prices, better services, and higher quality for consumers. Communities can work with traditional providers to allow last-mile services to a traditionally underserved area. This diversity in service offers better selections and price competition.
There is also a plethora of benefits that may be less obvious. High-speed internet access can improve educational opportunities and access to healthcare services, particularly for those in rural or underserved areas. A municipality can attract new businesses, encourage existing businesses to expand, and create a more vibrant local economy by providing broadband access. Improved access to broadband services can increase property values, particularly in areas where high-speed internet was previously unavailable.
Municipal broadband can improve the delivery of essential public services, such as public safety and emergency response, by providing reliable, high-speed connectivity. Residents can access digital government services or utilize free public Wi-Fi. Providing everyone with affordable, high-speed internet access can help reduce the digital divide and improve all residents’ access to information and resources.
The City of Fort Worth is a perfect example of how municipal broadband can change a city. They were challenged with developing a connectivity plan while managing recurring costs, all while trying to help residents access city services, telehealth, job market information, and education opportunities.
“Just like power and water, internet has become a basic necessity for our communities to be successful,” says Mayor Mattie Parker. “By implementing City of Forth Worth (CFW) Neighborhood Wi-Fi in five neighborhoods, we are working to bridge a steep digital divide in parts of our city that need it the most. Access to Wi-Fi helps empower more residents to complete job applications, do research for schoolwork, attend virtual doctor appointments, complete applications for services, and so much more.”
They were able to provide free Wi-Fi access for 40,000 residents in 10,000 lower-income households, deliver visibility to job opportunities and city services through Wi-Fi access and bring a cost-effective wireless solution without ongoing expenses to residents. Read more about how the City of Fort Worth has helped bridge the digital divide in their urban neighborhoods.
With so many funded programs, now is a fantastic opportunity to look at expanding and securing broadband infrastructure, and Cisco is here to help. Explore all of Cisco’s government solutions to discover how we are helping drive an inclusive future for all.