Next Century cities
Working to close the digital divide since 2014

In 2013, a number of local leaders convened in New York City to discuss the creation of a new organization focused on supporting municipal governments through city-to-city collaboration around next-generation networks.

Next Century Cities officially launched on Monday, October 20, 2014 in Santa Monica, CA. The inaugural members were joined by local, state, and federal advocates, policymakers, and Chairman Tom Wheeler of the Federal Communications Commission. The 32 original members include:

Ammon, ID

Auburn, IN

Austin, TX

Boston, MA

Centennial, CO

Champaign, IL

Chattanooga, TN

Clarksville, TN

Jackson, TN

Kansas City, KS

Kansas City,

Lafayette, LA

Leverett, MA

Lexington, KY

Louisville, KY

Montrose, CO

Morristown, TN

Mount Vernon, WA

Palo Alto, CA

Ponca City, OK

Portland, OR

Raleigh, NC

Rockport, ME

San Antonio, TX

Sandy, OR

Santa Cruz County, CA

Santa Monica, CA

South Portland, ME

Urbana, IL

Westminster, MD

Wilson, NC

Winthrop, MN

Next Century Cities’ Original Vision Statement

A bipartisan, city-to-city initiative dedicated to ensuring the availability of next-generation broadband Internet for all communities. 

Next Century Cities, Two Decades Later

Almost two decades after its founding, Next Century Cities now boasts over 220 members across 40+ states. Our work now spans the wide variety of issues affecting connectivity and municipal governments. Across our growing policy and program team, we partners with members to tackle issues including broadband access and adoption, digital inclusion, digital equity, privacy, spectrum allocation, civic engagement, and more. We advocate for our members before Congress, the White House, the Federal Communications Commission, and in state capitals and governor’s offices across the United States.

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Local Efforts to Increase Broadband Access in Detroit

The City of Detroit launched a new initiative in 2019 entitled Connect 313. This initiative is leveraging private partnerships to not only provide all Detroit households with access to high speed broadband internet, but is also designing strategies to increase the rate of internet adoption through the distribution of computers, a network of supported community technology hubs and neighborhood-based technology ambassadors. Rocket Mortgage’s $1.4-million investment into Connect 313 is one notable example of the support being provided.

The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) in 2019 launched WiFi on a number of public buses after a 2018 rider survey showed that 84% of respondents would use WiFi on the bus if given access. Of the 1602 respondents, 47% relied primarily on their mobile phone data plans or the public library for internet access, while just 40% had high speed internet access at home. Public WiFi access points are particularly helpful for riders like Rice who rely, in part or solely, on their phones to access information on their way to appointments and to places of employment.

For the People, By the People: Equitable Broadband Networks

Like the library, democratic proximity to end-users is also an approach that is being utilized with success by the Detroit Community Technology Project’s
Equitable Internet Initiative (EII). This initiative “supports and develops historically marginalized residents to build and maintain neighborhood-governed internet infrastructure that fosters accessibility, consent, safety, and resilience.”