Charlotte, NC

Mayor Vi Lyles

North Carolina

Total Population: 792,862
Population Density: 2,457 (people/sq.mi.)
Land Mass: 297.7 (sq.mi.)…..

“Access to affordable broadband internet is a critical component of strong vibrant cities. Affordable broadband has become an essential utility, a required component for economic mobility, providing every resident the access to information they need to stay connected and succeed. Paired with technology and digital skills, this access will help propel all our residents and our community to achieve their full potential.”

 
 

“Municipal governments across the country are challenged by the rapid rate of change in a technology-driven landscape. We know that the future of civic engagement requires a strong digital platform. The City of Charlotte is committed to ensuring that every resident has access and the ability to engage with city services in our modern democracy.  We also know that we are not alone in meeting these challenges and opportunities.  By collaborating with other municipalities we can learn best practices from each other, more rapidly harnessing the power of the digital landscape and addressing the digital divide so that no one is left behind.”

 

In 2015 the City of Charlotte began working with numerous community partners to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for bridging the digital divide in Charlotte. The vision for this plan is for every Charlotte resident to have the opportunity to be fully engaged in 21st Century opportunities. Developing a digital inclusion strategic plan provides an opportunity for Charlotte to collaborate on setting goals, inventory existing digital resources, identify gaps in services and develop a road map toward achieving digital inclusion. This effort requires a long-term commitment with multiple sectors working together including local government, community organizations, businesses, education and learning institutions, the faith community, foundations, healthcare and residents. Over 95+ partners have been engaged in envisioning a connected Charlotte. Together we brainstorm about affordable, home Internet connection providing high-speed access for under $10/month so no one is left behind. We explore wi-fi hot-spot lending programs that make digital resources available to low income families. Our partners are collaborating to make digital resources more accessible, such as the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools ‘One Access initiative that unlocks online public library resources for over 145,000 local school children and their families from anywhere, anytime there is internet access. Our public school system is putting Chromebooks into the hands of students to create lifelong learners who can think critically, collaborate and create. With our partners we are creating a playbook that individuals, families, non-profits, and others can draw from to create a plan and options that will work for them and their communities. We have invited our community partners to join the cause as we seek to co-create options for digital inclusion for Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Visit digitalcharlotte.org for more information.

In addition to these partnerships, all City reconstruction project designs (street, tree-lawn, curb & sidewalk) must include the installation of conduit/broadband, resulting in the incorporation of the telecommunications component into the project design prior to public bid.  Rochester’s ordinance facilitates the expansion of valuable assets across the city: preserving existing infrastructure, allowing the provision of in-kind services in lieu of fee payments, and developing opportunities to leverage these provisions. The vision is to ensure network extensions for the benefit of all citizens, in particular, low-income neighborhoods, and bridge the digital divide, i.e., ensure maximum connectivity and universal access.  

RECENT CITY TELECOM RELATED ACTIONS:

  • The creation of a City division to address these issues, 
  • Director of Telecommunications
  • Community Liaison,
  • The passage and implementation of the Telecommunications Ordinance, 
  • Expand Permits Staff: address increased work load from telecom/wireless network expansion,
  • The registration of all Telecommunications providers within the city, 
  • Creation & Coordination with Dig Once/GIS implementation
  • Catalogue of all available resources within the Right of Way (ROW)
  • Provider Forums re: in kind service payments, public private partnerships, et. al.
  • Collaborative Projects/Partnerships/Philanthropic Donations
  • Expansion & marketing of broadband discount programs
  • The requirement for conduit/fiber installation on all road construction projects,
  • The performance of an Inventory Analysis of Telecom Assets, 
  • Master Plan 2034, Community Collaboration & Outreach, and 
  • The establishment of the Smart City Committee & Working Group

With the evolution of the CDE Lightband fiber and gigabit networks the community has seen many improvements and benefits. We are poised to continue on this path of better services, more economic development opportunities, greater quality of life experience and stronger educational development opportunities for our city and our citizens.