Mayor Gary Resnick Defends Broadband Access

“As city leaders, we work proactively with the private sector to support high quality service for our communities.”

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On Wednesday, May 3, Mayor Gary Resnick of Wilton Manors, Florida, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology to share ideas on how local governments could aid in reducing barriers to broadband infrastructure deployment. In addition to his public service, Mayor Resnick serves as a vice chair on the National League of Cities’ Information, Technology and Communications Advocacy Committee.

Mayor Resnick opened his statement by thanking the committee, Senator Nelson of Florida in particular, for seeking a local perspective on a topic as important as broadband deployment.

Across the country, cities like Wilton Manors have emerged as leaders in broadband innovation. “As city leaders,” Resnick noted, “we work proactively with the private sector to support high quality service for our communities.” But as Mayor Resnick went on to explain, all parties, including local and federal, governments and industry, need to work together as productive partners to accomplish mutual goals.

As part of his testimony, Mayor Resnick outlined several policy recommendations before the Committee, but stressed the importance of avoiding a one-size-fits-all federal preemption of local authority — and the value of local input in the rulemaking process.

Specifically, Mayor Resnick made the following recommendations for Congress to consider when addressing broadband deployment:

  1. The Federal government should prioritize local decision-making on infrastructure.
  2. Congress should tackle federal barriers to infrastructure deployment.
  3. Congress needs to allow local governments to use every tool in the toolbox, including municipal broadband.
  4. Congress needs to invest in digital literacy, to encourage broadband adoption and safe Internet use.

As the panel attested, public and private sector actors alike share the goal of expanding broadband and wireless access to as many residents as possible. However, as Mayor Resnick noted, the rollout of new infrastructure, including cutting-edge small cell technology, should not come at the expense of public good or proper right-of-way management.

“With respect to this new technology — it’s a disruptive force,” Mayor Resnick said in response to a question from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). “We haven’t had experience dealing with it before, and we need to educate local officials throughout the country on how to deal with the technology.”

Mayor Resnick concluded by again thanking the committee for welcoming the local perspective, and urged the attending members of Congress to remember that local governments have and will continue to be innovative, productive partners in expanding fast reliable broadband to all Americans.

In addition to Mayor Resnick, the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet heard from Patricia Cooper, Vice President of Satellite Government Affairs, SpaceX; Mr. Larry Downes, Project Director, Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy; Mr. Brian Hendricks, Head of Technology Policy & Public Affairs for the Americas Region, Nokia Corporation; and the Honorable Jeff Weninger, State Representative, Arizona House of Representatives.

For more information on the Congressional hearing, read Mayor Resnick’s written testimony or check out the Senate Commerce page. For more information on the National League of Cities’ broadband policy, read our infrastructure issue brief.